Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter: Learning math and science don’t have to be done behind a desk in a classroom with four walls.
Rather, little ones can complete their lessons in science through collecting leaves, and math skills through building a “stick” house.
That’s the idea behind a new outdoor classroom started this school year at Riverview Kindergarten and Early Learning Center in the Manitowoc School District.
The Learning Adventure Land sits behind the school and includes large tree pieces for climbing, a building area, an outdoor “kitchen,” a mud area, sorting tables, a dry riverbed, and barrels for water play. Organizers planted 16 trees around the area to eventually give it a woodsy feel, and a future prairie patch behind the classroom was seeded.
The area is available to preschoolers, kindergartners and elementary school-aged students throughout Manitowoc, as well as other community members.
The district purchased an outdoor classroom curriculum so teachers could host classes from math to art to music and reading in the outdoors if they wanted to, said early childhood coordinator Lori Brandt. A donor also provided a shed that holds tools and other items, such as magnifying glasses, boots and “mud buddy” suits to keep little ones clean in sloppy conditions.
Most teachers spend about an hour in the outdoor space with children, and the area is used just about every day that weather allows.
“The Manitowoc district has a strong belief in environmental education,” said Kelly Vorron, the Manitowoc district forest coordinator. “Teachers understand how nature can be great in education. It gets kids active and interested in something outside. There’s really a big push for it in early childhood learning.”