Below are my favorite books to create an outdoor classroom. There are a few other resources on my book shelves but the below references are at the top of my outdoor classroom list.
Create an Outdoor Classroom
Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots: Gardening Together with Children is remarkably accessible to gardeners and non-gardeners alike. The activities are accessible to us adults, whether we have a green thumb or not. We can learn alongside our children by creating hands-on learning activities like creating a pizza garden and a sunflower house! Children love these activities. Many of the activities involve a bit of patience but there are several offseason wonders to create and imagine with you children. The book is a mix of life science, art, sensory learning!
I am a huge fan of Stacy Tornio, the author of Project Garden: A Month-by-Month Guide to Planting, Growing and Enjoying ALL Your Backyard Has to Offer. This book is a wonderful mix of hands-on gardening, life sciences, and art activities. I truly appreciate the layout of the book. A month to month approach is helpful in my planning (or my “not planning” as the case may be). Each chapter (or “month”) includes ideas for planting, making art and other gardening related projects, and ideas for using recycled materials. Plus the writing is personal and accessible. She makes us believe that we can make these activities happen with our children. Clever and creative, I highly recommend this book to create an outdoor classroom for parents, educators, and caretakers. Definitely, bookmark the author's website.
Edible Schoolyard: A Universal Idea is inspiring to say the least. Written by the venerable Alice Walters, the book offers a pedagogy to bringing outdoor learning into a child's life. She does not simply present us with ideas and activities for learning n nature. Waters describes a philosophy and an integrated approach to teaching, learning, and living with a garden. Children not only understand how to plant and grow a garden, they learn how to take care of their bodies by knowing how to identify, grow, and harvest organic food. Although this holistic approach to education can appear a bit daunting, don't be afraid! She writes in a way that is accessible and will truly inspire you!
I have written about Anna Comstock's Handbook of Nature Study in other nature learning-related posts. This book is perfect for parents and educators wanting to bring nature learning into the classroom or the home. The layout and images are vintage in their layout. The photos are blurry and clearly produced in a different era. One of the reasons I appreciate the offerings of this book so much is because the writing takes us back to the basics. Comstock gives just enough background on a variety of nature topics covering a large spectrum of life science learning. Perfect for an adult wanting to learn more, but also want to teach a young child. The sections include basic lessons that don't require any fancy materials. Simply knowledge, curiosity, and a little intrigue. The perfect addition to a reference shelf.
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