Written by: Kerry Craig, Outdoor Learning Teacher
We have had another successful year in outdoor learning. This year we continued to develop our love of nature through working in the garden, experiencing the forest and making the most of the wonderful trees and birds that are in our playground.
We started to build up a bank of books to enhance learning about nature – for research purposes and for nature storytime during outdoor learning time. We hope to acquire more of these types of books during the next school year.
The Outdoor Learning Program now has connections with different units of inquiry throughout the Elementary School and we established a Third Grade Garden as part of their Sustainability Unit. Each class has been cultivating their own raised bed and observing it over time.
We also started to trial different kinds of insect collectors and magnifiers. We would love to have class sets of each, and also extras for teachers to use on forest visits.. Students have also expressed interest in using microscopes to observe things such as insects and their eggs, leaves and soil.
We also piloted spending the day in the forest with a First Grade class – building shelters, doing an insect hunt and having Mr. Chip join us for an art lesson using natural materials in the forest.
We used tarpaulins, bungees and tools to build shelters in the forest. We have started to invest in good quality materials such as tools and tarps that can be used with all grade levels and that can also be used by the PE teachers. Mr. Valsek, our Maintenance Manager, built a wood shed for the ES Playground and in the last month or so we have our first campfires and marshmallow roasting sessions at the fire pit.
All of these wonderful experiences, in which children continue to grow and learn more about nature and the world around them, have helped us to trial some resources that we would love to invest in during the next school year. We look forward to enhancing our learning experiences for children in the outdoors with great anticipation and enthusiasm!