Beyond The Classroom

Margaret McKnight and Edited By: Heather Ranta

It’s official! We now have a wonderful outdoor learning space at South Shore complete with storytelling throne, benches and trail (in progress). The Outdoor Learning Space project is an exciting venture that the elementary students have begun. The elementary grades are building a space outside on our school property to have as an outdoor classroom. The outdoor learning space will be used for a variety of lessons and activities. We will be able to use our local environment as a context to practice and extend our curriculum standards. Our students show increased engagement in lessons when they are taught outside. We plan on using the space to conduct lessons in all content areas. In addition to the main central learning space, the students have identified other locations near the outdoor learning space that will be great places to read and write. They would like to create an outdoor art studio, a bird feeding station, as well as places to build, create and play using natural materials. Educational research consistently supports the fact that outdoor learning time enhances students’ learning as well as their social and emotional wellbeing. It is inspiring to see the students planning their space and looking forward to using their outdoor classroom.

Toward the end of August, a surveyor came to survey and mark our property line in the woods located behind the school playground. Knowing our boundaries, students from several grades including Mrs. Suo’s, Mrs. Olson’s and Mrs. McKnight’s classes have explored possible spots well suited for an outdoor learning space and trail. In October, a guest artist/teacher came to build a storytelling throne for space. Students were involved in the building process and learned a lot from Jim Hill, originally from England, including measuring, angles and geography to name a few. Learning while doing and learning outside!

On November 11th, a group of parents, teachers, and student volunteers spent their Saturday clearing and preparing the outdoor learning space. The storytelling throne was also moved to its outdoor home and Mr. Truchon built a pair of new benches for the space. We are fortunate to have such talented and dedicated families at South Shore! Thank you to all who have volunteered their precious time and talents throughout the year to make this happen!