By Michelle Domocol
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
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.