Academic journal article Science and Children

Outdoor Classrooms

Academic journal article Science and Children

Outdoor Classrooms

Article excerpt

Every science lesson can't feature a field trip, and every school does not have space for a wooded nature trail. Are you yearning for ways to get your students outdoors? Even with limited resources, you can create an outdoor learning environment. Whether it's a garden, a wildlife viewing station, an erosion project, or a geology study, your outdoor classroom will be a special place for your students to learn.

An outdoor classroom is also the ideal vehicle for community involvement: Parents, native plant societies, 4-H, garden clubs, and master naturalists are all resources waiting to be tapped, as are local businesses offering support. You will enlist your community in the development and maintenance of your outdoor classroom, and the entire community will benefit! All you need are organizational skills, imagination, and these resources to make it happen.

Arbor Day Foundation: Nature Explore www.arborday. org/explore

In addition to the offerings of the Arbor Day Foundation, this program offers a research based resource guide for educators working to connect children with nature. You can certify your outdoor classroom, or use the registration form to evaluate your project.

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Boston Schoolyard Initiative www.schoolyards.org

This ambitious long-term project may inspire your community to try something similar.

Captain Planet Foundation www.captainplanetfdn.org/grants.html

Outdoor classrooms can fit the criteria of the Captain Planet grants for hands-on projects that promote environmental awareness.

Children and Nature Network www.childrenandnature.org

This organization is "building a movement to connect children and nature." If you are involving family members in your efforts, you may be interested in starting a Nature Club for Families. Nature Rocks (www.naturerocks.org) is a companion website for parents.

D.C. Schoolyard Greening www.dcschoolyardgreening.org/gettingstarted/projecttypes.html

Don't let an urban environment stop you from considering an outdoor classroom. Check out this program in our nation's capital, especially this page of project types.

Evergreen www.evergreen.ca/en/lg/lgresources.html#start

U.S. schools are not eligible for their funding, but this Canadian organization's website is a must-visit for its abundance of free downloadable information, from research to volunteer management. The resources include not only the usual how-to but also some interesting ideas like using rammed earth bricks in outdoor building projects.

Georgia Wildlife Federation: Planning First to Make Your Outdoor Classroom Last www.gwf.org/resources/wildlifehabitats/bmps.pdf

You will find Appendix D, the Outdoor Classroom Needs and Interests Survey for Teachers, invaluable in planning for your site and assembling a team of like-minded teachers. Despite the state-level focus, this is a useful primer for the outdoor classroom planner.

Lowe's Outdoor Classroom Grant Program www.lowes.com/lowes/lkn?action=pg&p=AboutLowes/outdoor/index.html

Read about past recipients and apply for grants up to $2000 to create or upgrade outdoor classrooms. …

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