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Schoolyard wildlife habitats aren't just for beauty and fun--they are outdoor classrooms where real science learning takes place. Schoolyard habitat projects involve conservation and restoration of wildlife habitat; however the learning doesn't have to stop there--outdoor classrooms can foster many kinds of active learning across the curriculum and provide a creative outlet for meeting national and state standards in several disciplines.
A selection from Science and Children -- Summer 2006
This is very thorough — thank you! We can use this as we’re working to grow our school garden into an outdoor classroom and add a bog garden and habitate space.
Ashley Townsend (Baton Rouge, LA)
The author presents arguments for the establishment of outdoor classrooms and a variety of examples of how schools in different situations might accomplish this. She also provides suggestions for how to plan and fund these projects. A very good article for anyone considering an outdoor area!
Tina Harris (Bloomington, IN)
I have just read Sarah Haines article, Outdoor Classroom – Planning Makes Perfect and am inspired to put a team together and create an outdoor classroom at my school. Ms. Haines did a great job of explaining that an “outdoor classroom can foster many kinds of active learning across the curriculum…” an important component for whole-school support. She also shared that one can be created even in urban areas with planters, hanging feeders or on a rooftop. She gave the great suggestion, which I had not thought about, to be sure to check, when getting administrative approval and support, to be sure that the planned area is not being considered for future construction!
One obvious stumbling block for so many projects of this type is funding. Ms. Haines provided some great tips to find local, community and parent support / funding for outdoor classrooms. This has the added advantage of providing all-important buy-in. When the parents and neighbors help plant and pay for the gardens, they stand a much greater chance of being maintained.
If you start with a well thought-out plan, include administration, faculty, students and the community; a great outdoor classroom can become a vital part of any school.
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