Growing Plants, Growing Minds

By Michelle Domocol

Inflourish: Cebu Blog

This September, I’ll share more design inpiration for

  • seasonal vegetable and fruit gardens,
  • outdoor learning gardens, and
  • medicinal/therapeutic landscapes.

Food gardens, outdoor classrooms, and therapeutic landscapes invite us to spend more time outside. I think expanding our outdoor connection is vital to growth and overall health.

I deeply understood this connection when I was studying my masters program. While I was studying oak forests for my masters program, I worked as a park guide and environmental educator for children and adults (Photo 1). At the same time, I regularly camped in the mountains with friends on the weekend. My outdoor recreation, work, and studies strengthened my environmental literacy. In addition, I regularly witnessed students, colleagues, and friends deepen their curiosity about nature. Through informal and formal outdoor educational activities, I also saw highschoolers and retirees:

  • re-invigorate their connection with community, and
  • take interest in environmental stewardship
Photo 1.  As a garden educator, university students, alumni groups, and pre-schoolers attended my past garden/outdoor education programs.

As a parent, caregiver, or teacher, are you interested in developing an outdoor educational experience? How do you start?

One approach is to use a garden, nearby beach, or farm as a classroom. From that starting point, you can build engaging environmental activities and curricula. Below is a booklet with a few fun environmental games and nature-based learning activities you can adapt for your students or children.

I hope the booklet can inspire new ideas or enhance existing outdoor learning modules.

I know first-hand the powerful effect of outdoor education. In particular, I’ve seen the benefits of transforming a garden into a new learning space (Photo 1). Informal and formal academic learning in a garden, schoolyard, park, or beach can spark a new appreciation for natural wonders. It can deepen a child’s connection to their environmental heritage and history. It can solidify an adult’s calling to protect clean air, water and land resources.

With all these benefits to our well-being, I look forward to sharing more garden-education-inspiration for the rest of September.

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