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Creating Outdoor Classrooms

Creating Outdoor Classrooms

Lauri Macmillan Johnson
Kim Duffek
Drawings by James Richards
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  • Book Info
    Creating Outdoor Classrooms
    Book Description:

    Schoolyards have come a long way from the barren playgrounds that many people remember. Today's school campuses often feature gardens in which students can learn about native plants and wildlife, grow vegetables and fruit, explore cultural traditions, practice reading and math skills, and use their imaginations to create fun play spaces. And for a growing number of urban students, these schoolyard gardens offer the best, if not the only, opportunity to experience the natural world firsthand and enjoy its many benefits.

    This book is a practical, hands-on guide for creating a variety of learning environments in the arid Southwest. Filled with clear, easy-to-use information and illustrated with photographs, drawings, and plans, the book covers everything necessary to create schoolyard gardens:

    An introduction to schoolyards as outdoor classrooms and several types of habitats, including art gardens, cultural history gardens, ecological gardens, literacy gardens, and vegetable gardensDesign theory, including a history of garden styles, and design principles and design elementsBeginning the design process, including identifying participants and writing a design program that sets out goals and requirementsConducting site research and synthesizing design elements to arrive at a final designDesign essentials, including project funding and design features, maintenance, accessibility, safety, and project evaluation and revisionWildlife ecology, including elements needed for survival such as food and shelterCreating gardens for pollinators and other wildlife, including hummingbirds, butterflies, bees, moths, bats, and flies, as well as pest controlLists of native plants for various kinds of habitats and nurseries that sell native plants, as well as books, web sites, and other resources for learning more about native plants and wildlife

    This guide will be essential for landscape architects, school personnel, parents, and students. Indeed, its principles can be used in designing schoolyard habitats across the country, while its information on gardening with native plants and wildlife will be useful to homeowners across the Southwest.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-79417-7
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. xv-xx)

    This publication is intended to provide creative inspiration and guidance toward the implementation of successful outdoor classrooms for integrated learning. Designers of these spaces might consider art, mathematics, science, or, more specifically, native wildlife and plants as opportunities for learning. The text describes design processes and offers useful ideas for all garden types, particularly wildlife habitats and gardens of the Southwest. In recent years, much interest has arisen in obtaining information regarding the use of native plants to attract wildlife to backyards and schoolyards. Interaction with wildlife in a garden not only provides a venue for learning basic ecology but...

  6. Chapter 1 Schoolyards
    (pp. 1-22)

    Schoolyards can be developed as outdoor classrooms that are spirited and interactive places for integrated and place-based learning. Children can play a major role in the design and implementation of the place. Characterized by natural, cultural, and artistic features, schoolyard outdoor classrooms can be dynamic and evolve through time as children and their leaders make design adjustments and create and re-create the place.

    Heidi Vasiloff (1998, 6), of the Arizona Game and Fish Department, promotes the use of a portion of the schoolyard for development of wildlife habitats, and she defines these environments as “places where young people and wildlife...

  7. Chapter 2 Design Theory
    (pp. 23-44)

    Theories of design in visual art, architecture, and garden design developed as a reflection of the natural conditions of the environment, cultural influences, and artistic interpretations of the time. This theoretical information is presented to help designers generate strong concepts and alternative layouts as they create their natural outdoor classrooms, wildlife habitats, and gardens. These ideas have broad application to landscape design, and within the context of this book, the termsoutdoor classroom, wildlife habitat,andgardenare interchanged in various applications. Keep in mind that this background information is an overview of styles and visual fundamentals (principles and elements)...

  8. Chapter 3 Beginning the Design Process
    (pp. 45-72)

    In designing school campuses, it is important to equally consider all of the indoor and outdoor spaces that will be part of the architecture and landscape architecture of the school, including classrooms, roads, athletic fields, and schoolyard gardens. These should be designed as a whole and harmonious system laid upon a foundation of ecological principles, cultural factors, artistic influences, and economic and functional requirements. However, as the buildings take priority in school construction projects, they are often designed in isolation, without regard for existing site conditions or possible outdoor functions. Schoolyard natural areas and many other outdoor spaces are consequently...

  9. Chapter 4 Site Research and Design Synthesis
    (pp. 73-96)

    Chapter 3, “Beginning the Design Process,” led designers through a process aimed at writing a design program, which includes a statement of goals and objectives, a detailed list of requirements, proposed activities, activity settings, desired design features, and curriculum ideas. Continuing through the process, this chapter demonstrates how site research used in the selection of a site, the documentation and mapping of existing site conditions (site inventory), and the evaluation of these conditions (site analysis) continue to help designers prepare for design synthesis.

    The selection of a site for the outdoor classroom is most rewarding when it is coordinated with...

  10. Illustrations
    (pp. 97-98)
  11. Chapter 5 Design Essentials
    (pp. 99-122)

    Although this book offers special attention to wildlife habitats, with information on additional selected garden themes, school community groups will identify their own specific outdoor needs. With final designs completed, schools will be ready to begin fund-raising and eventually installing the design. Fund-raising and construction activities can be handled by outside professionals or through community volunteers.

    Grant preparation is a time-consuming and sometimes overwhelming endeavor. Consider hiring a professional for the job; it could be well worth it. If licensed contractors build the project, legal construction drawings may be required, as discussed previously in Chapter 3, “Beginning the Design Process.”...

  12. Chapter 6 Ecological Principles and Wildlife
    (pp. 123-144)

    Ecology is the pattern of relationships between organisms and their environment. An environment is everything that acts upon an individual or species to shape it, and it contains the elements that ultimately determine survival. Physical factors (such as geologic features and climate), chemical factors (such as soil makeup), and biotic factors (such as plants, animals, and microorganisms) can shape entire biotic communities. All organisms in a biotic community are interrelated in some way, in what many refer to as the web of life.

    Local environments are shaped by climate and topography. One need only compare the cool north side of...

  13. Appendix: Regional Plant Tables
    (pp. 145-178)
  14. References and Additional Reading
    (pp. 179-191)