10 Life Lessons Learned from an Outdoor Classroom
A few summers ago, my colleague, Sally Haughey from Fairy Dust Teaching wanted to go a conference. After learning the high cost of registration, flights and hotel, she opted to not to go. Instead she gave birth to the Fairy Dust On-Line Summer Institute and brought trainings via the computer to hundreds of teachers. It was an honor for me to have been a guest speaker for a second summer at the Summer Institute. Working with Sally is nothing but inspiring and gave me an opportunity to share what I have learned from my work with Outdoor Classrooms. Here is a peek into my presentation.
Lesson #1: Start Before You are Ready
It is important not to overthink the start of an Outdoor Classroom as there are too many potential obsticles that can drive you away. Starting an Outdoor Classroom can be as simple as planting a seed and watching it grow.
Lesson #2: Prepare, Plan and Play
As teachers and painters we know the magic is all in the preparation. Visualize the outdoor teaching environment you want to create. Brainstorm your ideas and begin making lists and taking action. The more preparation and planning you do, the more playful learning time you will create.
Lesson #3: Sprinkle Love and Water
Everything grows with love!
Lesson #4: Get Dirty, Dig Deep & Turn the Soil
Don’t be afraid to get dirty. Let go and watch the kids follow nature’s lead. The life lessons here are huge.
Lesson #5: Tap into what you already have! Loose Parts
Many of us have all the tools we need to create dynamic outdoor classrooms. Start with sticks, rocks and shells. You will be amazed at what you can create.
Lesson #6: Add Literacy! Books as Loose Parts
Becoming a steward of a Little Free Library is one of the best things I have ever done. Add books to your Outdoor Classrooms.
Lesson #7: Invite Wonder and Curiosity
Get creative! Ask questions and fill children with a new curiousity about the outdoors.
Lesson #8: Collect & Document Your Garden Stories
We all have stories. Every garden and outdoor classroom has a story. Take pictures, write down and share these important Outdoor Classroom stories.
Lesson #9: Plant seeds of Inspiration
Everything you do has the potential to inspire another person or child. Think about your seeds of inspiration and what color you want your rainbow to be.
Lesson #10: Let Go and Embrace the Growth
The most important lesson of all….Let Go! Nature is magical and if you keep trying to control everything about it…you will miss the lessons. Listen to the wind, the birds and embrace the seasons change.