What is an Outdoor Classroom?

My school’s recent project is an outdoor classroom. The building has been built and additions to the area are always in the works. We are currently working on grade level gardens. Our outdoor classroom is a covered pavilion area and storage section with a large paved walking track around it. The track goes into a wooden area and back out again. The track has signs to point out facts about the trees and plants and other natural occurrences. The gardens will be along the sides of the walking track. Each garden has a special theme. The kindergarten theme is fairy tales. Our garden will feature a weeping willow tree and a castle. Other gardens will have homes for critters and special types of plants. Our outdoor classroom has taken many donations and hours of volunteer work. However, it is beautiful. It is an attempt to bring science back to life in our school.

An outdoor classroom is a learning center where children can explore the world around them. The center should be stocked with tools and resources for the children to use. Outdoor classrooms need magnifying glasses, insects catchers, and information books for identifying objects and animals the children see. Why should we expect children to go indoors to learn about erosion, bugs, life cycles, and photosynthesis? Children can observe many of these things first hand right outside the school building.

The children will also need a work area in which they can make observations about their collections. They will need soap and water to wash off fossils and stones. Small gardening tools are also good items to keep inside of the storage section of the facility.

Outdoor classrooms are exactly what they sound like. They are learning centers set up outdoors in order for children to explore and discover their world. If an outdoor classroom is not available at your school, teachers should consider at least taking students outdoors periodically for observations or nature walks.

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