Natural Teachers Network showcases innovative outdoor learning projects and programs. Here are a few of our favorites to help inspire and guide your next outdoor learning adventure.  Please add to the discussion, let us know what you're doing to transform education by connecting children with nature.

10 Innovative Nature-Centric Projects & Programs for Your Students

1.    Move Your Classroom Outdoors
Under the leadership of teacher Catherine Padgett, Ford Elementary School has developed an incredible outdoor learning program and site.
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2.   Take Your Kindergarten Into the Woods
The kindergarteners from Sangster Elementary School abandon their classroom each morning, rain or shine, for a hike into the woods where sticks and stones replace pencil and paper.
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3.   Teach the ABCs of Gardening - Literally
Clinton Street Public School's ABC Learning Garden consists of 26 plants, one for each letter of the alphabet. Students get an education on a wide variety of plant life, from aster to zebragrass, and a chance to reconnect with nature.
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4.    Turn Your "Ugly Schoolyard" into a Learning Garden
The "Ugliest School Yard Contest" in Detroit addresses the public space challenges and builds young people’s confidence in their ability to make other changes in their environment.
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5.    Help Your At-Risk High School Students Graduate with a Healthy Blend of Nature, Community and Play
The REAL Academy (Redwood Environmental Academy of Leadership) is a school within a school and offers its own special curriculum focused on service and the environment.
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6.    Grow the Skills Needed to Succeed in Elementary School.
Larry Volpe's students go outside to learn and discover a new motivation to cooperate and be responsible.
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7.    Show Your Administration What an Integrated Learning Program Looks Like
Professional development is essential for outdoor learning, but finding sustained, building wide examples can be difficult. Donnan Stoicovy, Principal of Park Forest Elementary in State College, PA, runs an excellent program that spans all grade levels and is viewed as a continuous process.
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8.    Create an Outdoor Learning Space.
Forest View Elementary in Durham, NC, uses a wide variety of Outdoor Learning Spaces (OLS) across all grade levels. These spaces include a bird blind, nature trail and wetlands.
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9.    Turn Your School into a Garden School Inspired by Granny
Granny’s Garden School, Loveland, OH, is considered by many to be the largest and most comprehensive school gardening program in the Midwest. And, yes-- there is a Granny, Roberta Paolo, founder and driving force behind this tremendous initiative.
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10.    Plant a Global Garden, Grow a Science Curriculum
This Tulsa, OK, based nonprofit is dedicated to empowering students and communities through hands-on science education. Global Gardens help students learn about science, health and the environment while challenging them to become caring, forward thinking and confident individuals.
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Children's classroom behavior is better if they have recess.
School gardens positively impact children's learning and
behavior. Natural views from high school positively impact
students' academic achievement and behavior.
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[+] Download your personal NTN Certificate of Participation,
print it, and display it for others to see.

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Replies to This Discussion

This is a lovely showcase collection from North America and I enjoyed reading the free download. I love what Ford Elementary are up to - do they have livestock too? Just wondering :) 

The reason I ask is that their website link reminds me very much of The Coombes CofE School in England. I wrote 10 blog posts about their work in July and August 2010 and this may be interesting reading for some too... seems like the outdoors is in all over the world!


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