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Outdoor Classroom = Student-Led Learning

Lawson Heights School was the recipient of a Programs of Excellence grant for 2020-21. They created a new Outdoor Classroom that has been an exceptional addition to their learning and play space. In the few months they have had it, they have seen the amazing hands-on learning that is possible with an open-ended space.

“As educators you often read about student-led learning, and this outdoor space has been exactly that. Thank you so much for your support, these little learners (and their teachers) are very appreciative!”

Myranda Fong, Kindergarten Teacher, Lawson Heights School

In the fall they had students notice the large number of ladybugs huddled under the fallen leaves. From that first observation they were immediately coming together to build a habitat, and eventually sketch it. From there they had many questions as to where the ladybugs would go in the winter. They were able to explore many nonfiction books and even got to hypothesize when they would see them again! Now that the snow is here their exploration has shifted to trying to dig the “biggest hole”, as students attempted to answer the question “could I dig a hole to my house?”

Students have also been busy making snow cookies in the Mud Kitchen and even tried to make their names out of snow and letter cookie cutters. A large tree in their outdoor space allows students to go out and feel the trunk as they were learning about “describing words”.

The Autism Support Program at Lawson Heights uses the outdoor classroom regularly. Each day their students spend time outdoors to explore movement as they develop fine and gross motor skills.

The time outside also provides opportunities for students to problem solve, make decisions, plan, and use creative thinking. Students increase social interactions as they share, cooperate, or take turns while exploring equipment. .

“Time outdoors allows students to develop a connection to the natural world and the place we live.”

Lauren Hoogie, Autism Support Teacher, Lawson Heights School

SPSF offers Programs of Excellence grants each fall to Saskatoon Public Schools and classrooms who have innovative projects in the areas of literacy, wellness and technology.