The Wisconsin Retired Educators’ Association (WREA) recently recognized Marcy Elementary School for its Education Naturally outdoor classroom project and awarded it $2,000 to support the program.
Marcy has had two outdoor classrooms since 2010 that have become part of the school’s culture and curriculum. They allow children to expand learning past school walls and provide hands-on experiences and real-world skills.
Marcy first grade teacher Tricia Mayer, who applied for the WREA grant described the outdoor classrooms as a place where students can be “unplugged” and generate new ideas and inquiries by exploring their natural surroundings. It is a popular place for students to gather to read and play math games. Science and environmental education content standards are taught hands-on using rain gauges, a sun dial, thermometers and bird feeders.
Education Naturally classrooms are a result of collaboration among many. A local nursery, quarry and carpentry training center provided landscape plans, 18 benches, soil, mulch and other natural material. Families volunteered on workdays to stain benches, plant and mulch trees and plant gardens. An Eagle Scout candidate built bird nesting houses and an arbor in the classroom with information boards explaining the animals the houses were built to attract.
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