Outdoor Classroom at TKG

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Every week, rain or shine, TKG meets at a local park. We come together as a mixed age “Tribe” or similar-aged “Villages” for focused, intentional learning opportunities. This learning in the field centers around 3 critical areas: environmental stewardship, physical development and empowerment. As a way to develop in each of these areas, we look through the lenses of Math, Engineering, Art, Physical Education, Play and Science (M.E.A.P.P.S. for short) as a guide for helping students care f or the earth, be physically confident and build knowledge and skills that empower them in the world. In addition to these rich, guided learning experiences, there are also times every field day for students to play and investigate freely, experiencing their natural surroundings in any way that fuels their interests.

BEING IN NATURE MAKES KIDS SMARTER, HAPPIER, AND MORE CONNECTED

The Knowing Garden’s curriculum features a weekly outdoor classroom day. We value this day because we know that children don’t spend enough time in the Great Outdoors and we intend to provide this unique opportunity for children to:

  • develop respect for living things
  • problem solve
  • stimulate the senses
  • engage in collaborative play
  • increase attention span
  • increase physical activity
  • build observational skills
  • reduce anxiety
  • increase perseverance
  • practice mindfulness
  • practice creativity
  • think mathematically
  • practice leadership
  • improve communication skills
  • improve immunity
  • link informal play to formal learning

week-6-field-dayHOW DO WE LEARN OUTDOORS? M.E.A.P.P.S!

MATH

• Measurement of small and large objects
• Graphing & Map Making
• Problem-solving physical challenges
• Calculating whole number problems
• Recognizing patterns

ENGINEERING

• Building structures for forts or insect homes
• Engineering hammocks and swings
• Solutioning environment problems
• Drought mitigation

ART

• Using natural materials for sewing and painting
• Botanical drawings
• Dancing: embodying plant and animal species in the park
• Theater: acting out nature related stories

summercampjun2016-scientificmethodandairplanesPHYSICAL EDUCATION

• Climbing trees
• Playful locomotion: running, skipping, jogging, galloping, rolling
• Sports camps and free play: kickball, soccer, football, frisbee
• Balance, slack line, juggling, core exercises

PLAYFUL CONNECTION

• Opportunities for sustained, deep connection with peers
• Opportunities for sustained, deep connection with teachers
• Extended time dedicated to conflict resolution
• Teacher initiated playful interventions

SCIENCE

• Geology: exploring the rocks that tell the park’s story
• Physics: experimenting with forces that affect a paper airplane’s flight path
• Biodiversity: discovering native and non-native plant species
• Biology: observing the habits of insect and invertebrates

HOW DOES FIELD DAY TRANSFER TO ACADEMIC LEARNING?9to11-ducksearching-week31-2016

At a recent field day, teachers and parent teachers observed dramatic play around building nests. Seeing deep exploration emerge, teachers began to reflect about children’s play in order to continue the learning. Teachers wondered with students: What is a nest and how do you make one? How do birds fly and communicate? How do birds overcome external risks (storms, hunters, etc)? Teachers also prompted investigation into social-emotional topics with: What is it like to be an egg, a baby, a teenager, an adult, a mom, a dad? If you “run away” will others come find you? How might you play together with so many people? Will you share what you have gathered? When it is time to go, how might you leave the nest you’ve created and connected with?
After a full day of exploring answers to these questions, the learning continued in the classroom. Over the course of several weeks, students brought various kinds of nests they found into the classroom. Teachers created academic provocations around their ideas and treasures. At TKG, not only do we support students to work towards reflection and completion, we are ready to engage this plan when the interest resurfaces again.

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