One of the things that makes Imago’s Branching Out programs unique is that our education programs are designed to take place at the school, rather than at Imago’s nature preserve. This is intentional. We want nature and access to the outdoors to be a common and familiar occurrence for our students. For our Branching Out students, nature is just outside the classroom door and just down the block from where they live.
This closeness not only builds up our students’ sense of comfort and connection with nature, it also adds a sense of pride. The gardens and natural areas at the school are THEIR gardens and natural areas. Our students not only learn in these spaces, they learn how to take care of these spaces and how to steward them. As you can imagine, having these outdoor education areas outside of the classroom door is great for teachers, students and the parent community as well as for our Branching Out programs.
As with most outdoor nature areas, there’s always some work to do to make sure that they are safe, beautiful and wonderful places to learn and explore. This fall we’ve had a bevy of great additions to our Branching Out outdoor areas at Pleasant Ridge Montessori (PRM) school, one of our Branching Out partners. A big thanks goes out to our students, parent volunteers, and teachers who have all chipped in to make the garden and the naturescape at PRM great!
Just this fall we’ve….
- Added a Mud Kitchen to the garden – big thanks to an awesome PRM parent. For many of the 3-6 teachers, this is something they have always wanted out in the garden.
- Improved the sandbox – with anonymous donations of new sandbox materials (buckets, shovels and alphabet molds) as well as fun seasonal items from our parent volunteers.
- New signs – in all of our teacher and community gardener beds
- Pawpaws and milkweeds – planted by our students to give our natural areas even more habitats for our wild neighbors to benefit from.
That’s not all, we have a great list of improvements that we’ll be adding in the near future…
- PRM parent and landscape designer, Glenn Bayfield, is developing a plan that will increase the usable space in our naturescape. Glenn’s was hard at work all summer getting the space ready for school and is now going to help us develop numerous improvements to the naturescape.
- Learning Stations – as part of our plan to create areas that teachers can easily conduct their own lessons, we are creating natural learning stations in the garden and the naturescape. Each learning station will feature all the materials and lessons needed for the class to conduct several investigations and lessons. Learning stations planned for this fall/winter are the Bird Learning Station, the Fossil Learning Station, the Compost and Decomposer Learning Station, with more coming early next year.
You too can be part of the fun of creating outdoor classrooms and learning areas for local students. Reach out to us about ways to volunteer or make donations of needed materials.