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Create Your Own Outdoor Classroom

The Whys of Outdoor Classrooms

     Those of us using or planning to use outdoor classroom know the tremendous rewards of learning outdoors. However, accountability issues may seem so daunting that you don't feel comfortable taking your class outside. Here are some points to assure you and anyone else of the academic soundness of teaching outdoors.
  1. High Retention Rate

    Graph of rate retention

         Hands on experience is one of the reasons that teachers are bringing their classes outdoors. At least 90% of the learning outdoors is a hands on experience. In a study done by Bethel Learning Institute, it was found that the retention rate is 75% for learning by doing. It goes up to 90% when students teach other students what they learned. Compared to lecture at 5%, learning by doing is a clear winner.

  2. Empowerment

    Picture of students

         Giving to the earth is powerful for students. Whether helping plant a tree, studying an insect, or preparing a garden for winter; students become connected to the earth. That connection empowers them through a sense of achievement and wonder. In turn it motivates them to want to do more, indeed building the foundation for respect.

  3. Academics

         Math, science, social studies, art, language arts all come alive using nature as a learning lab. Nature is relevant learning at its best! There are many curricula that give you step by step lessons. Project Wild and Project Aquatic through your state Fish and Game office to name two. Parents and community members can help you carry out these lessons. By drawing your community to the school, learning intensifies for students and the community.

  4. Teamwork

    Picture of kids working together

         Learning teamwork is more accessible in "real life" or "natural" surroundings. Communication and the ability to work together is essential through out our lives. When you go outdoors with students, your class needs to establish a structure that will be safe for them and the equipment that they are using. If you have your class help set the safety rules and consequences, it makes classroom management everyone's responsibility.

Outdoor Classroom Teacher Training

    A ten minute video entitled Nature as a Classroom for teachers, students, businesses, school boards, or parents that explains the why, what, and how of Outdoor Classrooms at your school. Available for $25.00. Make checks payable to Priscilla Logan and snail mail to Priscilla Logan, 3031 Calle Caballero, Santa Fe, NM 87507.

     If you have questions about outdoor classroom teacher training, contact Priscilla Logan.

Other Teacher Resources

New Mexico Opportunities for Outdoor Classroom Teacher Training:


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© 1999 by Priscilla Logan; These activities are available for classroom use,
but they may not be published in any form without her prior consent.