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Tapping the Power of Outdoor Learning

Lynne Sorkin, AIA LEED AP

FGMA's Lynne Sorkin digs into the possibilities of outdoor learning spaces in the new issue of Update, an IL Association of School Business Officials journal.

Whether urban, suburban, or rural, the outdoors can be a great place for instruction and group discussion as well as activities like gardening or building with loose parts. With the right schoolyard equipment, unstructured, playful activities challenge students to develop motor and navigation skills.

Sorkin considers a spectrum of outdoor learning spaces including defined group areas; mazes, paths and climbing apparatus; sit spots, sensory and edible gardens. Practical logistics tips cover clear communications/expectations; “Gear Libraries” for outdoor clothing; access points in/out of school buildings; cleaning up after outdoor activities; and accessibility issues.

Snapshots of Prairie Trails School, a net-zero early learning center, and the Chicago Public Schools’ “Space to Grow” initiative round out this fulsome look at the power of the outdoors for teaching and learning.

This article was originally published in the Fall 2021 Illinois ASBO UPDATE Magazine

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