When was the last time you visited a school with an outdoor, nature-based, classroom?
Nationwide, educators and conservation organizations are partnering up to create natural areas and trails that are on or near school grounds.
Whether nature-based playgrounds, walking trails, or relaxation and inquiry spaces, these efforts have increasingly proven effective in improving students’ learning, engagement, and social interaction.
Additional research notes that hands-on educational activities help foster greater understanding and learning retention.
A good example is Black River Elementary School, in Jefferson County. They are creating their own outdoor learning trail with a special grant from the Army’s Federally Impacted Schools Education Foundation as part of their Learning Coming to Life initiative.
“Hands-on nature activities have kept my students engaged and learning, even with just two in-person classroom days a week,” explained Tricia Pierce, a second-grade teacher helping to lead the effort.
“With current limits on time and expenses, creating a trail right on school property helps us incorporate outdoor learning more regularly at all grade levels, and community members have opportunities to join in and benefit from it as well.”