Greening the elementary campus
"How the young respond to nature, and how they raise their own children, will shape the configurations and conditions of our cities, homes—our daily lives."
—Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods
Richard Louv’s national bestseller Last Child in the Woods
was a popular read for the school community during the Wildwood Now campaign. In the book, Louv comes to a startling conclusion: Today’s children can likely tell you more about the Amazon than they can about the last time they went on a hike. More and more, urban children are becoming alienated from nature—and it’s not healthy. In fact, Louv reports that researchers find a direct link between nature and children’s physical and emotional well-being.
While projects at the elementary campus responded directly to these concerns, they also created opportunities for new curriculum. Teachers have found innovative ways to link to the environment to varied and stimulating settings for learning and imaginative play.
Big Yard Woods
Big Yard Woods inspires children’s imaginations and connects them to nature through space that allows for active, creative learning and play. The Woods feature a grove of native trees and drought-tolerant plants. New climbing structures made with natural materials encourage climbing, balancing, strength, and coordination as well as social and intellectual development.
Teachers hold class sessions in the Woods, providing students with hands-on experiences to highlight lessons in math, science, the arts, and social studies. Kids are involved in projects such as planting, labeling, and maintaining specific garden areas. They create dams and other water-oriented projects in the arroyo area. And those who prefer quiet activities find shady places for reflection and the simple enjoyment of nature.
Outdoor Classroom/Handprint Courtyard
Prior to the renovation, the Handprint Courtyard was a swampy patch of grass. Today, it is a lively outdoor classroom that features raised planting beds, trees, and an outdoor whiteboard. Besides caring for their gardens, students study sustainability, life cycles, social and cultural implications connections to agriculture, and their roles as stewards of the Wildwood gardens. The Handprint Wall, a Wildwood treasure, remains in place.