The Importance of an Outdoor Learning and Gardens in Schools by David Ogdon, Lower School Science/STEM Teacher

Posted by Adam Moore on 12/11/2017

Garden Project  Garden Project   

In his book, Last Child in the Woods, Richard Louv addressed the growing problem in our culture that children are spending less and less time outside in nature. This book sparked a national review of what was becoming a case of “nature deficit disorder” (Louv, 2008) and called for educational programs and parents to address the problem.

Early childhood teachers know that play, particularly outdoor play, is an important and effective method of teaching very young children and helping to develop a child’s natural curiosity and creativity. Natural settings are essential for a child’s healthy development because they stimulate all of the senses and integrate informal play with formal learning (Louv, 2008). Research shows that all children benefit from being outside and that their imaginations, inventiveness, and creativity blossom in natural settings.

With these thoughts in mind, our Outdoor Learning Center and Garden Renovation Committee has set out to develop a plan that would support Woodland’s Educational Philosophy by providing a less formal and more natural play/exploration space that supports our students’ sense of curiosity, inventiveness, intellectual development, and creativity while integrating spontaneous play with informal learning. Community projects like the outdoor learning space at Woodland provide numerous opportunities for extended members of the school community to be engaged in the program. In developing our plan, input was sought from students and school faculty and has become a collaborative project among teachers, students, their families, and the entire community. 

If you would like to get involved or hear more about Woodland’s Outdoor Learning Center and Garden Renovation project, you can contact STEM teacher, Mr. David Ogdon at dogdon@woodlandschool.org .

Update on Outdoor Garden Renovation Project

We are drawing near the end of Phase 1 of the renovation which was to:

  • clean up the space
  • move the compost pile to another place in the garden
  • create more space that is open to sunlight by removing a tree 

Students in the Middle School Garden Club engaged in the cleanup and exercised their creativity by designing a fairy garden. This also included investigating which plants would grow in the fall and planting snow peas in a space they created. A tipi frame trellis was researched and built for the peas to climb. In addition, students researched and designed a water wall and a sound wall for use by early childhood students. One of the student’s grandfather built the frame for the sound wall.  A group of fifth grade students volunteered to help with the cleanup by working after school. During this process, they learned about composting and how to differentiate between desirable garden plants and weeds.