Brock schoolyard greening project gets Fonthill kindergarten students outdoors

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Brock schoolyard greening project gets Fonthill kindergarten students outdoors

Published on May 12 2014


Kids enjoy the sun, wind and air, so why not let their enjoyment of the outdoors lead their curiosity about the natural environment?

For kindergarten students at Glynn A. Green School in Fonthill, an outdoor classroom will provide schoolyard opportunities for inquiry-based learning.

As part of a larger “greening Niagara’s Schoolyards” project, Brock prof Mary Breunig has teamed up with Brock and York graduate students and undergraduate students from Brock to design and construct an outdoor classroom.

The project is designed to fuel the inquisitive minds of the kindergarten students and to connect Ministry curriculum with nature-based activities to further enhance “traditional” learning.

“With an emphasis on inquiry based learning, the outdoor classroom will be used to complement the curriculum students learn indoors,” says Mary Breunig, course instructor and Associate Professor, Recreation and Leisure Studies.

“In this green schoolyard, students will have opportunities to garden. They will plant actual seeds and watch them sprout and grow while inquiring and learning about natural processes.”

The project is funded by the Niagara Community Foundation and Brock University and the outdoor classroom itself as well as the related study both contribute to a growing body of research about how green schoolyards enhance childhood development.

In fact, many are familiar with Richard Louv’s seminal book (2006), “Last Child in the Woods” which talks about kids’ nature deficit disorder. Schoolyards are one means to help reduce this deficit, according to Breunig.

The first schoolyard greening project was implemented at the St. Catharines Montessori school back in 2012.

“Outdoor play and education helps children develop physically, cognitively, and socio-emotionally,” explained Cassie Wever, an environmental studies graduate student at York University and native plants specialist who has been coordinating aspects of the Glynn A. Green project.

“It has been found that physical spaces and access to natural resources can help stimulate early childhood development and improve kids’ health.”

Brock students and researchers, along with teachers who conduct inquiry–based learning with their kindergarten students, have worked collaboratively on space design and curriculum development.

Glynn A. Green school principal Todd Bright commented, “When university students contribute to a school, they are really contributing to the life of a community, leading me to believe that they will make a difference in the World.”

The project officially broke ground on May 1, however the study is currently ongoing and construction will continue into the spring.

Project coordinators and students (Brock students included), can be available on site to discuss the project further.

For more info:

Michael T. Armstrong, Communications Officer, Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, Brock University, 905-688-5550 x5342; mtarmstrong@brocku.ca

Mary Breunig, Associate Professor, Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies, Brock University, 905 688 5550 x5387; mbreunig@brocku.ca

Todd Bright, Principal, Glynn A. Green Public School, 905-892-3821; Todd.Bright@dsbn.org

Cassie Wever, Masters in Environmental Studies student, York University, 519-760-1557; cassiejwever@gmail.com

Brock, Outdoor Classroom, RECL

“With an emphasis on inquiry based learning, the outdoor classroom will be used to complement the curriculum students learn indoors,” says Mary Breunig, course instructor and Associate Professor, Recreation and Leisure Studies.
“In this green schoolyard, students will have opportunities to garden. They will plant actual seeds and watch them sprout and grow while inquiring and learning about natural processes.”