Outdoor Classroom & Learning Garden
Davis’ Outdoor Classroom and Learning Garden encompasses an entire playground space for students to explore the outdoors through play-based learning. Started in 2015 from a small project of growing watermelon in an old swimming pool turned garden bed, our program has been growing ever since. We pride ourselves in working with community partners to build a strong and resilient garden program that provides an exceptional learning experience for the youngest of explorers. In 2016, we partnered with Growing Oshkosh to build five hexagon shaped raised beds to expand our garden efforts. In 2018, we then partnered with North High School Communities Program to expand our garden again to include two raised strawberry beds and two peach trees, as well as create an Outdoor Classroom space modeled after the indoor spaces offered to the students at our Center. Our space has also been awarded the 2019 Youth Gardening Grant from Kidsgardening.org and the 2019 Gro More Good Grassroots Grant from the The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation to help further expand our offerings to include native pollinator plants, grapes, and small herb garden spaces.
The Outdoor Classroom and Learning Garden are visited by the classrooms and their teachers throughout the spring, summer, and fall. Students plant seeds in their classrooms that grow into plants they then transplant to the garden. All through the growing season, garden lessons are incorporated into garden visits where the students tend to their plants by watering, weeding, and harvesting produce. The produce is then used in the Center’s weekly menu and offered to families to take home. In conjunction with the garden, the Outdoor Classroom space has play areas including a mud kitchen, outdoor music space, dry and wet sensory options, and many more. These outdoor experiences help students foster a sense of connection to nature, encourage imaginative play, give opportunities for hands-on learning experiences, and increase fruit and vegetable knowledge and consumption. Classrooms that visit the Outdoor Classroom and garden regularly include the Wigglers, Troopers, Hoppers, Sparklers, Snappers, Rangers, and summer School Age Program. Onsite Preschool and 4K programs also have access to the Outdoor Classroom and garden. The Rockin Rollers, Creeper, and Scooter classrooms have tote gardens on their playground space so they can also enjoy gardening at their own level. Our outdoor spaces are ever evolving as we continue to look for more ways to utilize these areas for teaching and play opportunities.