Golden Apple: Schoolcraft Explores Nature With Forest Classroom
When was the last time you spent time amongst the trees? Well, for Schoolcraft Learning Community, kids are getting quality time nature at least once a week thanks to the forest classroom.
“The forest classroom is a place where we can come out and explore nature and we’re not just sitting in a brick and mortar school learning about nature in a textbook. A lot of these programs started in Germany and they have forest kindergartens over there, and there’s a lot of research going on now in Japan about the benefits of just being in nature on our mental health and immune systems,” says Caige Jambor, the forest classroom teacher.
“I learn about everything in nature,” adds first grader Kaitlin.
The students start with explore time where they can climb trees, find critters and use their imagination to its fullest extent.
“We played a lot and we built a fort, and my favorite thing was playing tag,” says another first grader Gabe.
When the class is sitting around the campfire at home base, they’re learning a multitude of survival skills, like how to build a fire or pitch a tent. They also learn various science lessons.
“We come back and we do a lot of cooking for our snacks. Every kid’s involved and we try to do a lot of learning about forestry topics as well like tree I.D., track I.D. We do a lot of work with just the natural sciences,” says Jambor.
Claire, a first grader, says, “Today, we were learning about leaves and we found three colored leaves.”
In sunshine, rain or even snow, the forest classroom is always held. The only exception is when is when it’s below 0 outside. Another thing about the curriculum is that every student at Schoolcraft gets to participate.
“Every grade will do it about once a week. The younger kids get a little bit longer time in the morning and then middle school gets a little shorter time in the afternoon because we can just get to work and start to do a little bit more science work,” says Jambor.
One part of the forest classroom is encouraging the students to spend more time outdoors, and so far, it seems to be working.
“Whenever I see them in the hallways, they ask me, ‘when is our day for the forest?’, so I think they really look forward to it. It’s a great highlight to kind of break up the week.”