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Outdoor Learning Environment
Every year, several school councils across our District undertake the task of raising funds for play structures. The planning stage is very exciting. School councils consult with students, staff, and parents to determine just the right structure for their school.
At a recent Committee of the Whole meeting, a report was received highlighting some of the recent trends in outdoor play environments. Without a doubt, play structures continue to be popular. There is also a growing movement within Canada towards creating naturalized/green play yards and learning spaces. These school yards feature rocks and logs to sit and climb on, sand pits to play in, trees for shade, all with the intent of providing children with opportunities for imaginative play and outdoor learning experiences.
We know that the benefits of outdoor play environments to the school and the community are considerable. We acknowledge that the cost of outdoor play environments and play structures has risen over the past years, and we appreciate that there is a shared responsibility for funding between the district, the school council, and the City of Ottawa. Our Budget Committee will consider the District’s contributions to these costs during the upcoming budget process.
And we’re not the only ones thinking about outdoor play. In fact, each year through Majesta’s Trees of Knowledge, one school in Canada is awarded a complete, customized outdoor classroom, valued at $20,000. Additional prizes are awarded to the schools that finish 2nd, 3rd and 4th and a $3000 prize is awarded to the school that has the most creative idea for rallying support.
We are very proud to announce that Glashan Public School has been selected as one of the ten national finalists in this year’s competition. Glashan’s Outdoor Classroom project is part of a larger-scale initiative organized by the school council to refurbish and re-invigorate an uninspiring school yard that is used by the diverse population of 400 students at its centretown location.
The concept of an outdoor classroom not only fits the desire to explore and expand the possibilities of what the school can do for its students but will also enhance the community. In a school already well-versed in providing outdoor educational experiences for its students, the staff is excited about using an outdoor classroom to enhance their own teaching repertoire and their ability to meet the needs of students in a non-traditional setting.