Bringing Outdoor Kindergarten to Waterloo - A pilot project with Evergreen
This fall, with support from the Lyle S. Hallman Foundation and Toyota –Evergreen Learning Grounds grants, Coronation Public School in Waterloo initiated a pilot project that saw the initial phases of an Outdoor Classroom installed at the school. This school ground facelift project includes a courtyard revitalization, a junior natural play space, and an integrated Kindergarten play and learning space. The outdoor classroom provides an opportunity for students to engage in hands on play with the natural materials of sand, stones and logs. It increases physical activity; aids with better shading of the school ground; reduces boredom, bullying and vandalism; and increases school pride. Coronation Public School was selected as the first school in Waterloo to pilot the Outdoor Classroom – serving as an exciting example to surrounding schools, daycares and community groups of how to integrate hands-on, play based learning into their own school grounds.
This project is particularly timely considering the recent release of the Ontario Children’s Outdoor Charter (http://www.childrensoutdoorcharter.ca/). Based on the declaration that children have the right to explore and play in the outdoors, the Charter aims to get children outside to discover the wonders of nature. Given the countless research studies that show that kids who spend regular time in nature are happier, healthier, and more likely to care for the Earth, we know that spending time outdoors is essential to every child's development, health and well-being. What better place to foster and nourish meaningful outdoor learning and playing opportunities than at our schools? Developmentally appropriate Outdoor Classrooms like the one at Coronation Public School encourage students to explore the outdoors, discover the natural beauty surrounding us, and become environmentally responsible citizens.