We consider ourselves to be a nature school due to our heavy focus on plants, animals, climate, the Earth’s environment and how it is all interdependent. We connect to these ideas in many ways throughout our day and while our indoor classroom is certainly reflective of this learning, our outdoor classroom is even richer.
Outdoor classroom: For us this is literally using outside space as learning space. Each day we dress for the weather and head out to play, believing in the wisdom of explorer Ranulph Fiennes, who said “There is no bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.” Our incredible yard is our primary outdoor learning space, however, we also make regular visits to the natural areas in our neighborhood. At times, our outdoor learning might be structured and specifically aligned with learning that has been happening in our indoor classroom. Most of the time, children are encouraged to discover and play at will while teachers observe their work and deepen the outdoor exploration with supporting materials inside.
We take both a large and small scale approach to outdoor learning. Children develop a deeper understanding around very basic natural elements (such as wood, rock, fire, metal, water, sand, soil, etc) while also marveling at the complexity and interconnectedness of living things and the environment. Children begin to find patterns as we return again and again to the ever broadening concepts of ecosystems, food chains, natural communities, seasons and life cycles. We also directly address the pertinent issues of environmental justice and global climate change.