Agnes G. Hodge Public School celebrated the opening of its new outdoor classroom this past week, welcoming students and parents to explore the inspired learning space.
“The space will give our students an amazing place to learn in a unique environment,” says Heather Knill-Griesser, principal at Agnes G. Hodge. “It’s been shown that learning outside has many positive impacts to students’ learning and well-being, and we’re thrilled to have this option.”
Thanks to the fundraising efforts of the school’s parent association, and a grant from Ontario 150, the school’s kindergarten area was transformed into an outdoor classroom environment including diverse natural elements and seating for an entire class. The endeavour saw the expansion of the space to incorporate hills and trees, as well as the planting of new trees and the installation of rocks and logs, which can be used for games and fitness. The rocks, log benches, and stumps are arranged on a grassy area sloped naturally in a theatre set-up, and can be used as furniture by staff and students taking their lessons outdoors.
The space also includes an area for gardens, which students will maintain while learning about soils and plant life. Carolinian species of trees and native plants will be planted throughout the year.
Another exciting development the space brought on includes a partnership with OM Smith Kawenni:io Elementary School in Ohsweken, part of Six Nations of the Grand River First Nations community. Students from both schools planted oak trees known as the Three Sisters, and will be installing butterfly plants as well.
The outdoor classroom is protected from the sun’s UV rays through shade elements and sun-safe designs. The celebration of the opening of the space took place during the school’s Meet the Teacher Night.