2017 Visioning Exercise
Backyard Outdoor Classrooms Learning Lab
“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” ~ George Bernard Shaw
These past few weeks I have been creating visions and goals for the new 2017 year. These are some of my favorite exercises. I highly recommend trying them. This year I posted my 2016 Year Roundup and my 2017 Outdoor-Classrooms Goals. Today, during my morning swim, I was thinking specifically about my vision for my Backyard Outdoor Classrooms Learning Lab. I pondered questions like: What is my ultimate design plan? What are the seasonal tasks that need to be done to bring this design plan to life? What is my vision for how this outdoor space will be used? I thought I would share this process with you, as it might help with your own Outdoor Classroom design. Here goes….
SETTING THE STAGE: There is a little bit of fun history within my Garden Story. The building and house used to be the former Monserrat Golf Club House. President Taft stayed here and enjoyed the former 9 hole golf course that was specifically designed for children. There is a Great Room that is original to the house and can be seen in old postcards. Below is a postcard from 1911.
The outdoor space includes a front and backyard that is abundant with trees, gardens, and paths. Several original rock walls and an old Coffee tree are among the outdoor features. Today, the gardens are certified from the National Wildlife Federation as a Wildlife Habitat and function as my Outdoor Classrooms Learning Lab.
What is the ultimate Outdoor Classrooms design plan?
Goal: I will create an Outdoor Classroom model for Natural Teachers. It will represent each type of Garden and their outdoor design elements.
- Gardens that Feed
- Gardens that Attract Wildlife
- Gardens Rooted in Curriculum
- Gardens that Honor Intergenerational Connections
DREAMING BIG Brainstorming Exercise: In this exercise, simply write the first things that come to mind when thinking about your Outdoor Classroom. I ended up with 3 main categories. This is a beginning and a foundation.
1. EDUCATIONAL OUTDOOR LEARNING STATIONS:
- Include outdoor design elements (from Designing Outdoor Classrooms e-course)
- Label every plant
- Create an interactive experience with questions on signs
- Add facts about plants…Did you know?
2. OUTDOOR LEARNING LAB:
- Create outdoor spaces that allow experimentation with activities
- Create a “working farm” (Bee’s, Food)
- Practice what you preach with Recycle, Reuse, Reduce features
- Grow from Seed (Indoor Seed Sanctuary)
- Cook from harvested food (donate extra food to food pantry)
- Keep adding and changing features & elements with the seasons
- Create plant lists, books, seasonal tasks
3. RETREAT CENTER:
- Create a space where teachers can come for educational half day Retreats
- Invite guest speakers to share related topics with the community
- Offer 4 seasonal indoor-outdoor half day retreats (Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall)
What are the Seasonal Tasks for each Garden?
- Goal: Keep a 2017 seasonal tasks garden journal and track your work within each garden type
- Goal: Add Outdoor Garden Elements to each Garden type
- Goal: Learn from other Outdoor Classrooms and apply!
What is your vision for your Outdoor Classroom? What is your ultimate design plan? How will you bring your Outdoor Classroom ideas to life? Share your ideas in the comments below!