Outdoor Classroom Guide

Now that school is back in session thoughts may be turning toward potential fall projects.  Among the many options have you considered an outdoor classroom?

There have been countless studies recently that show how important getting outside is for kids.  But time outside is hard to find and once you find it, what do you do with it?  This guide to constructing your own outdoor classroom may give you some inspiration…or some much-needed help if you are already pursuing this.  Designs can be as simple or as complex as you like.

Originally published by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, and then updated by the National Association of Conservation Districts, this pdf gives diagrams of different outdoor classrooms, links to educational resources, a long list of activities, and tips on outdoor classroom components and maintenance.

Now I know what you’re thinking…that this sounds like a great idea, but there’s no way my school could afford to do it.  Your plans do not have to be extremely complicated.  Just by incorporating one or two ideas or activities you can introduce your students to a whole range of new experiences and possibilities.  But if you want to pursue a larger-scale project here are some resources that may help you make your dreams a reality:

Lowe’s Toolbox for Education Grants

The North Face Explore Fund Grants

Captain Planet Foundation Grants

American Community Gardening Association – there’s a listing of available community garden grants in their newsletter

Michigan Community Foundation Grants

The deadlines for the two grants listed below have already passed for this year, but will be offered again next year:

Go Green Youth Challenge Tree Planting Grants

MI Department of Natural Resources Community Forestry Grants


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