July 12th, 2024

Outdoor Adventure Kits getting classrooms out into nature

By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on March 24, 2022.

Herald photo by Alejandra Pulido-Guzman Teacher Betsy Fletcher guides a group of students using their new Outdoor Adventure Kit Wednesday morning at Westminster Elementary School.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDapulido@lethbridgeherald.com

Westminster Elementary School is the first recipient of the Helen Schuler Nature Centre’s Outdoor Adventure Kits.
“We’re really excited to be releasing this really fun community learning resource. This one is specifically designed for students,” said Coreen Putman, Manager of the Helen Schuler Nature Centre.
Putman said the kits were developed as part of the Natural Leaders Project, a popular program at the nature centre where they have an environmental education specialist that works closely with community groups that are registered in the program and stays in contact on a monthly basis.
“That continued contact actually really helps to build environmental literacy and ecological literacy, so it really helps people to learn about what makes Lethbridge special and our natural environments,” said Putman.
WES grade 4 and grade 5 students participating in the Natural Leaders Project this year had the opportunity to test the kits on Wednesday morning.
Putman said the kits were developed thanks to a redirection of funds that went unused for field trips that were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We worked with our community funding partners and they gave us the ability to redirect some of the funding that would have been used for transportation for those field trips to actually create the contents of these kits,” said Putman.
She said the kits are designed to have equipment and things that support students in getting outside and learning from their school yard.
“In a way, it took the field trips that one class would have enjoyed and now has created an outdoor adventure kit that the entire school can enjoy,” said Putman.
Program coordinator at the Helen Schuler Nature Centre, Jessica Deacon-Rogers, said the nature centre has been using a teaching technique called land-based learning since 1982, a very ancient form of teaching where you go outside and you learn from the world around.
“One of the things that we’ve noticed over time is that many of the teachers that we work with on field trips often don’t go outside to teach, because they don’t know how to teach outside,” said Deacon-Rogers.
She said one of the things they wanted to do with the kits is to assist them in learning techniques to be able to teach outside.
Deacon-Rogers said they also noticed that many schools don’t have the tools or resources that they need to go outside and teach and they wanted to assist them with that as well.
“Simple things like magnifying glasses, clip boards, something to sit on if it’s a little bit wet or cold outside,” said Deacon-Rogers.
She said the kits will be kept in schools and they are able to be used for classes of up to 32 students.
“This (WES) will be the first school to receive one of the outdoor adventure kits and there’s six other schools that will be receiving them within the next week as well,” said Deacon-Rogers.
She said they want people to be outside to connect with nature, to learn from the world around them and be inspired by the many different species of animals and plants that live here in our city.
Deacon-Rogers said they also want people to be outdoors as there are many benefits for people of all ages which includes increased kindness and connection with others around you.
“I think during the pandemic we all found that it helped to go outside, increase energy levels, take a little bit of break time away from whatever we were doing indoors and connecting with the world around us,” said Deacon-Rogers.

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