New lessons in outdoor classrooms include math and science, as young children collect leaves and use math skills to build a stick house.
The outdoor classroom at Riverview Kindergarten and Early Learning Center in the Manitowoc School District is called Learning Adventure Land. It includes a building area, a mud area, sorting tables, barrels for water play, large tree pieces for climbing, and a dry riverbed. 16 trees are planted around the area to give it a feel of being in the woods, and an area was seeded as a future patch of prairie.
In addition to preschoolers and kindergartners, school age students and community members can also use the area.
The outdoor classroom curriculum includes classes in math, art, music and reading. A shed provided by a donor also holds tools, boots, “mud buddy” suits, and magnifying glasses.
Every day that the weather allows, teachers use the space, usually sending an hour or so with the children.
“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.”