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Outdoor School as a Learning Option


Happy fall y’all!! I hope the official season change brings you happiness. Fall is my favorite time: the Oklahoma heat lessens, leaves change and we always go on a family Halloween campout. I’m not a fan of pumpkin spice anything, but I know they're out there!

One of the things that came up in an office conversation the other day was outdoor school. It got my wheels turning a little bit, so I changed my original article topic to touch on that here. We are used to having some nice spring days outside each year. This year with the pandemic, outdoor spaces have taken on a whole new meaning. It is a great way to combat the social distancing requirements and get some fresh air. 

There are obviously some logistical issues. In doing a little research, I came across some inventive ways to create an outdoor classroom. For seating, teachers used a variety of ideas from just marking off spaces to using 5 gallon buckets as chairs. One school used a fallen down tree to create benches for students to sit on.

One of the other issues surrounds covering or protection from either from the sun or wind. When researching, I found simple solutions to nothing at all--just enjoying the wide open space you can find to schools constructing nice pavilions. One simple solution that doesn't cost a ton of money or could more easily be fundraised is to use tarps or EZ Up canopies as shade protections. Many of us have EZ Ups or tarps, and they can be readily found. 

The great thing about outdoor learning is you can address any subject there. The typical classroom lesson does not have to be changed. Obviously, there are some lessons and subjects for which the outdoors provide the perfect backdrop. Going outdoors also provides great brain breaks and energizes learning.

I do have to mention our own Erin Bell. She recently joined our team this summer, and she has done a lot more research than I have on this topic and even wrote about this topic in her post graduate work. If you have questions please feel free to contact her at erin.bell@opsrc.net or you can reach out to me. I hope you get the chance to take your kids outside and enjoy Oklahoma's beautiful fall weather. And as always, I also hope you are doing well during this trying school year. 

Jason Midkiff

Director

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