Outdoor Learning Spaces – turning dreams into reality
It’s well documented that children learn better outdoors – it’s not just about what they learn but how and where.
When we raise money, we have (or should have!) specific projects we are working towards. Projects that everyone can get behind and share ownership of.
Outdoor classrooms are an increasingly popular addition to schools – a way of rethinking and expanding their existing learning environments. Outdoor education is thought to improve students’ self esteem, problem solving skills, motivation to learn and general classroom behaviour.
What does an outdoor classroom look like?
An outdoor classroom may incorporate some or all of:
- seating, perhaps weatherproof bean bags
- outdoor chalkboard
- a musical area
- a greenhouse
- outdoor cooking area
- natural features such as trees, shrubs and other greenery
- fitness elements
Is an outdoor classroom just for schools?
Outdoor learning spaces extend far beyond just being the domain of schools and can be incorporated into organisations such as churches, hospitals, scout and girl guide groups, animal welfare groups and many others.
A learning environment with meaning
As a part of this project, you can also create a meaningful centerpiece – using pavers engraved with a special message, perhaps an inspirational quote or your school motto.
Involving the students in the design of your outdoor space is another way of creating a connection to the project and bringing a special meaning to the area. It also means that a lot of thought will go into the project from the people who will get the most benefit out of it!
Turning the dream into reality
The ideal way to raise funds for a project like this is to offer individuals or businesses sponsorship through bricks and pavers that are engraved provide permanent recognition of your donors. These pavers are then be incorporated into the finished area. This has long been a popular way of fundraising traditional building projects, and an innovative way of being able to create an outdoor classroom.
We spoke with Richard from Signature Engraving and asked him to give us some insight into how outdoor learning spaces work in the community.
Q: What sort of outdoor learning areas (gardens, classrooms etc.) have you been involved with?
A: One school we worked with built an amphitheatre using engraved bricks to fund its construction and we have done work for landscapers constructing play and learning areas within schools.
We’ve done a few ‘Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Gardens’ over the last few years. We’ve also done a lot of work for the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary and Hospital on the Gold Coast who devote a lot of their time and resources to educating kids about the care and preservation of Australia’s native fauna.
We worked with the Tamworth Adventure Playground to promote improved fine and gross motor skills with children. It was designed with input from students at many of the local schools.
There are more whimsical applications where we engrave a dinosaur fossil into a free stone paver, or put images of animals (koalas, kangaroos, Peter Rabbit, etc.)
In other cases, we have created plaques for these types of environments.
Q: Do these fundraisers run any differently from Signature Engraving’s standard fundraising process?
A: Many schools and clubs have used engraved bricks and pavers to fund the construction and also to provide the materials used in physically building the landscaping and seating. Most use the standard fundraising process and traditionally either want to raise as much money as they can (ie. a profit based approach), or they just wish to cover construction costs or recognise individual or business contributions (financial, administrative, physical, or other).
Q: What assistance can you provide with an outdoor classroom?
A: Our role is to provide the engraved bricks or pavers for the project – we usually work with landscape designers who manage the project on the ground. We provide whatever support we can to the fundraising volunteers raising the money as well as to the design process. We love to get involved in projects like these!
Contact Signature Engraving for more information!