6550 N. 26th St.
Arlington, VA 22213
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Friday, October 31, 2014

Outdoor Classrooms

Schoolyard Summaries


Kindergarten in the Schoolyard

Beansprout Corner gives kindergarten students early exposure to using the outdoors for learning (for lessons see Kindergarten under Curriculum and for blog/images see Beansprout Corner under Discovery Schoolyard, Outdoor Classrooms). In Beansprout Corner students learn about plant and animal life cycles and habitats, including pansies, squirrels and birds. They study patterns in nature, seasonal changes, and environmental stewardship. A mini-stage can be used for dramatic play or a good game of checkers. A playground structure, sand box, weaving loom, and picnic tables make Beansprout Corner an inviting, multi-sensory space.

First Grade in the Schoolyard

Peter Rabbit’s Garden (for lessons see Curriculum, First Grade and our blog/images under Peter Rabbit’s Garden under Discovery Schoolyard, Outdoor Classrooms) allows first graders to use Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit as inspiration for planting and harvesting a variety of vegetables in class garden beds. Lessons on worms, soil, the parts of plants and nutrition are complemented by lessons that allow students to explore the life cycles of insects such as butterflies, bees and ladybugs and the role they play in plant life.

Second Grade in the Schoolyard

Second graders focus their work in the Courtyard and The Friendship Garden (for lessons see Curriculum, Second Grade for blog/images see Courtyard and Friendship Garden under Discovery Schoolyard, Outdoor Classrooms). In the Courtyard, students apply mathematics and science concepts as they monitor the temperature of the air, water, and ground, and measure the shadows of the sun each week throughout the academic year. Lessons on graphing this information allow students to track seasonal changes and the water cycle. As a segment of Project Nemo, developed by our second grade teachers, students observe plants and how environmental changes impact them. Second graders also use the papyrus plant in the courtyard pond during their study of Ancient Egypt. Students sketch and participate in hands-on study to learn about the use of papyrus paper, papyrus in art and architecture, and the changes in habitat that can affect the growth of papyrus. Finally, students participate monthly in the Junior Gardening program, with the assistance of volunteers from the Rock Spring Garden Club.

Third Grade in the Schoolyard

Students in the third grade focus their Discovery Schoolyard activities in the area adjacent to Tuckahoe Park (for lessons see Curriculum, Third Grade and blog/images under Parkside under Discovery Schoolyard, Outdoor Classrooms). In 2008-2009, their major stewardship project was the reconfiguration of a dry streambed. The project is used to discuss topics including the water cycle, erosion, soil, simple machines and taking care of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. In 2009-2010, third graders participated in the “Plot Against Hunger” program by planting and growing vegetables for the Arlington Food Assistance Center. The project focuses on community service and provides a context for writing and technology projects.

Fourth Grade in the Schoolyard

Colonial Village (for lessons see Curriculum, Fourth Grade for blog/images under Colonial Village under Discovery Schoolyard, Outdoor Classrooms) teems with activity during the annual Colonial Day in early June hosted by students in the fourth grade. Fiddlers, farmers, wood workers, crafts people, and artisans dressed in period costumes re-enact a day in the village—sharing children’s past-times and dancing the Virginia reel. Students, parent volunteers and teachers plant cotton, gourds, beans, corn and flax; dramatize book scenes; and share information about Native American crops and folkways. Lessons in social studies, science, mathematics, and language arts come to life for fourth graders in Colonial Village. In Tuckahoe’s Courtyard, students in fourth grade may also study a living model of the state of Virginia from the Chesapeake Bay to the Piedmont, the Blue Ridge and Shenandoah Mountains, and the Appalachian Plateau.

Fifth Grade in the Schoolyard

Tuckahoe fifth graders consider the entire Discovery Schoolyard, and Tuckahoe Park (for lessons see Curriculum, Fifth Grade and blog/images under the Discovery Schoolyard, Classrooms), as their outdoor classroom. Students explore science concepts outdoors through rock collecting and the study of plant cells. During mathematics, among other activities, students gather and graph meteorological data, comparing it to the information available from ancient cultures to provide a social studies connection to the outdoors. Students can also experience history by role playing in the outdoors; for example, making “cave paintings” with natural pigments. A yearly highlight is the study of democracy in the replica Greek Pavilion.


Last Modified on December 17, 2012