Lower School students love being outdoors. Despite cooler temperatures, students are regularly out of the building for twice daily recesses, nature walks, and special subject classes. Many studies have shown how being outside can improve mood, reduce stress, improve self-esteem, and increase feelings of connectedness. It is also vitally important to students’ academic development because it enables them to tap into different skills and competencies that transfer to their indoor learning.
Grade 1 students spend part of the Winter Trimester studying rocks in science. Lower School science teacher and Director of Sustainability Sam Mason shared, “Rocks tell stories, and through careful observation, we teach students to find the story of each specimen they find.” In addition to classroom activities designed to help students notice and test their theories about similarities and differences between types of rocks based on their attributes, students regularly walk in natural areas of the Day School property to find unique specimens to study and compare with other natural materials they have found.
In Grade 2, students headed outside recently with Lower School science teacher Will Cook to look for natural evidence signaling a change in seasons. In the Garden and Outdoor Learning Space, students not only noticed which plants were still thriving in the winter months but also the types of trees that still had leaves. They developed theories about why certain plants shed their leaves and others maintain their foliage when the temperature drops.
While new growth in the natural world might be limited in the winter months, our students continue to thrive and develop from outdoor experiences all winter long!