A question we often ask our students is: “Who lives here?” This open question encourages students of any age to observe their surroundings closely to figure out as many different living things they share their school yard with as they can. The question results in a different program each time depending on the location, season, and interests of the students involved. The 3rd-graders at Jonesport Elementary School explored this very question for 5 weeks of Forest Fridays this spring.
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.
Starting in early September 2018, all 3rd and 5th-graders at Milbridge Elementary have been enjoying weekly Thursday Forays with Maine Outdoor School in collaboration with the Transforming Rural Experience in Education (TREE) program. Students in each grade spend one hour per week outside exploring and learning from nature and each other around their school. Every fourth week, the 3rd and 5th-graders combine for a two-hour experience, usually a field trip, to share their experiences with each other and learn from a different ecosystem.
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.
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.
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?
The sun sets rapidly Downeast in the winter—especially after school. In the waning light, snow, and cold, an intrepid group of 4th-6th graders at the Peninsula School explored the forests around the school for ways that they could give back to their community.
What is the coolest cloud you’ve ever seen? “I saw one that looked like a bird! I saw a huge one! I saw one that was pink!” The 3rd and 4th-graders at Harrington Elementary were getting ready to dive into the world of the Water Cycle in two recent programs with Maine Outdoor School in May 2017.
What state of matter does ice belong in? This question was the first challenge these 3rd and 4th-grade students had during their Maine Outdoor School program at D.W. Merritt School in early May 2017. “Liquid!” was the quickest guess, but then they got thinking and exchanged some skeptical looks.