With ice still covering much of the forest floor in early April, Milbridge 5th-graders hunkered down onto the dry and warm “sit-upons” we always carry with us and reviewed their learning and experiences during Thursday Forays over the school year. They more than filled a chalkboard with their reflections on the educational games they played, the places they explored, the wildlife they saw, and the fun they’d had.
If you’ve been anywhere in the northeast this spring, you know that it has been cool and rainy! The 1st and 2nd-graders at Jonesport Elementary School, however, hardly seemed to notice. They spent five Friday afternoons from late March to early May 2019 learning about “Nature’s Numbers: How can math teach us about nature?”
When the weather turns cold, some Maine critters hibernate, others take shelter and never leave home, and still others leave outright during an annual migration. In icy, snowy, rainy, and windy conditions of the winter of 2018-19, the intrepid Milbridge elementary school 3rd and 5th grade students spent time outside each week figuring out how other species adapt to winter.
On five wintry afternoons from mid-December until early February, a group of Jonesport Elementary School 6th-8th graders tested their leadership skills while learning about the components of the local landscape in a Forest Friday program series designed by Maine Outdoor School in collaboration with Cobscook Community Learning Center’s Transforming Rural Experience in Education (TREE) program.
During late fall 2018, the Pre-K and Kindergarten students at Jonesport Elementary School spent an hour a week outside exploring and learning about nature during a collaborative program between Maine Outdoor School and Transforming Rural Experience in Education (TREE). Guided by the core question, “are humans part of nature?” students spent each week observing seasonal changes, exploring nature around their school, and making discoveries about how humans interact with the environment.
During early fall 2018, the 4th and 5th-graders at Jonesport Elementary School spent an hour per week each week figuring out “who lives here?” Maine Outdoor School, in collaboration with Transforming Rural Experience in Education (TREE), provided this five-week Forest Friday program series to meet both teacher and student goals. For inspiration, students referenced Island Readers and Writers book Look Up! by Annette LeBlanc Cate, a fun book about observing birds and keeping a sketchbook.
On an idyllic, misty, and warm early October morning along the shore of Beals Island, Beals Elementary School’s Pre-K and Kindergarten students went outside to learn about who lives in their local ecosystem.
In an effort to both help students learn about the flora and fauna in their home ecosystem as well as a local preserve they can explore and hike with their families, Beals Elementary School students visited the Ingersoll Point Preserve, owned by the Downeast Coastal Conservancy, in early October 2018.
For five weeks, Jonesport Elementary School students in grades 4 and 5 have been getting outside this fall for at least one hour per week during our “Forest Friday” program series. Due in large part to our partnership with Cobscook Community Learning Center’s Transforming Rural Experience in Education (TREE) program, which helps weave student voice into the academic goals of the classroom, even more Jonesport students will have a chance to get outside during Forest Fridays as the academic year goes on.
3rd and 5th-graders at Milbridge Elementary School know all about “phenology” and the living things they can find in their local ecosystem--do you? Due to a lovely partnership with Cobscook Community Learning Center’s Transforming Rural Experience in Education (TREE) program, Maine Outdoor School has been able to provide weekly one-hour outdoor programs to the 3rd and 5th-graders at Milbridge Elementary School.
If a child came to you with a dream about “someday,” wouldn’t you want to help make that dream come true? Cobscook Community Learning Center’s Transforming Rural Experience in Education (TREE) program is working on accomplishing just that by listening to local students and helping weave their voices into the academic goals of their classrooms through their “Somedays” project. TREE realized when a Milbridge Elementary School 3rd-grader announced her wish for an outdoor shelter at school that Maine Outdoor School could help make that dream come true, so TREE provided the funding for Maine Outdoor School to lead a two-part program for her whole class of Milbridge 3rd-graders.
For a second year in a row, all Harrington Elementary students got to explore the woods around their schoolyard with Maine Outdoor School. Activities and learning standards varied from class to class, but all students experienced the natural wonders hidden on Harrington Elementary’s campus while focusing on outdoor exploration and understanding.
Maine Outdoor School and Mano en Mano led a free, bilingual 4-day program series on weekends in May and June 2018 focused on learning about the importance of diversity in nature and in human communities with funding from the Maine Community Foundation. Through this program series, students not only learned about how diversity yields natural and human resilience while valuing their own differences, but also were exposed to a variety of local hiking trails and preserves that they can visit with their families and friends.
In collaboration with Cobscook Community Learning Center and the Downeast Spring Birding Festival, Maine Outdoor School was able to provide two free programs for the 5th and 6th-graders from Pembroke Elementary School in May 2018. In an effort to get Cobscook Bay area students engaged in the diversity of birds that migrate through the area this time of year, the programs were designed to complement the Birding Festival, which people attend from around the country.
As the school year was winding down and spring was winding up in May 2018, a group of Jonesport Elementary School teachers worked with Maine Outdoor School Co-Founder/Co-CEO Hazel Stark to learn about how they could build resilience in their students through outdoor learning.
As the days grew longer, albeit colder and snowier, a group of “Forest Detectives” at Cave Hill School sought to learn how our outdoor neighbors survive the Maine winter during our 8-week after school series there from January through March.
While some mammals of the Maine woods spend their winters hibernating in a warm den, 25 of Ella Lewis School’s intrepid 3rd-6th grade after school students did just the opposite this winter. As long as school wasn’t cancelled due to one of our many Nor’Easters this year, no amount of ice and snow could keep these kids inside as they unceasingly pursued an answer to winter’s persistent question: How do animals survive despite the frigid temperatures and scarce food?
Starting in early November 2017, a hardy group of Mountain View Elementary School students became “Forest Detectives” during an 8-part Maine Outdoor School after school series. For an hour each week, students have been exploring, learning, playing, and nature journaling about the forest lives around their school as afternoon daylight diminished.