10 Questions for Evaluating
Your Outdoor Classroom Site
Outdoor Classrooms come in all different shapes and sizes. Before beginning your design process it is important to survey and evaluate your site. Here are a few important questions to consider.
1. Where is the location of your Outdoor Classroom? How far is it from the school? Is it an enclosed or open space? Can your community see your outdoor classroom during drop off and pick up or is this space farther away?
3. Does the school have any area restrictions? Are there any school rules? Is the space being shared by other programs? Do you have a buildings and maintenance staff? How can you learn what these are?
4. What are the current features of the outdoor space? Are there existing trees, shrubs, water and/or hills? Is there a building? Are there challenging features like a big play structure? rubber play-ground space?
5. What is the directional orientation? (North, South, East, West) Where does the sun rise? and set?
6. How much sunlight does your outdoor space get? What time of day? These important questions will determine what types of plants to use.
7. Are there any erosion or drainage issues? This can be a challenge; however, can also play a role in getting creative in your design process.
8. What is the size of your Outdoor Classroom? Is there room to expand, if necessary?
9. What is the soil quality? Conduct a study with the kids. Ask questions: What type of soil do we have? Can we remedy it? Is is sandy? Is it dry? Do we need Raised Garden Beds or do we need to add compost?
10. Do we have students with special needs? Understanding who you are serving from the get go is very important. Make sure your Outdoor Classrooms is accessible to all students.
Don’t forget to take pictures when you are surveying the site. You will want to look back at BEFORE photos and capture what it looked like.
Want to learn more? Check out the Teaching in the Dirt: Designing Outdoor Classrooms e-Course HERE!
Now I want to hear from you. Tell us about your ideas for your Outdoor Classroom site in the comments below.
About Victoria Hackett, M.Ed.
My mission is for every child in every school to have access to an Outdoor Classroom. Therefore, I inspire educators to teach outdoors and lead an on-line virtual community of Natural Teachers all over the world to create their own Outdoor Classroom story.