"Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean." - John Muir, quoted in Alaska Days with John Muir (1915)
A study of forts and lighthouses at Fort Williams, a boat ride to Fort Gorges to talk about protected land, a hike in the Fore River Sanctuary, an intense physical activity with guided imagery, land and coast exploration at Wolfe Neck State Park, worm counting in the compost…. and that’s just Monday.
Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, says that, factoring out other variables, multiple studies of students in California and nationwide show that schools that use outdoor classrooms and other forms of experiential education produce significant student gains in social studies, science, language arts, and mathematics.
And the benefits go beyond academics. Students in outdoor education settings show increases in self-esteem, self-regulation, problem solving, resiliency, and motivation to learn. Children who experience meaningful interactions with the natural world are more likely to care about the natural world. Understanding that we are part of all that surrounds us builds empathy and compassion, fosters an understanding of our interdependence, and encourages the development of ethical responsibility.
Earth Week is our annual school wide celebration in keeping with our Mission to inspire children to “live well on the planet.” We bring students in purposeful and playful contact with the natural world through multi-age activities, providing rich opportunity to listen, look, question, feel, guess, discuss, and love the things they find all around them.
Students spend all day Monday, and Tuesday and Wednesday morning, out in the rich diversity of Maine's natural environments. Trips take children to parks, preserves, apple orchards, beaches and biking the Biddeford trails to study boat building, plant identification, national parks, health, and to engage deeply with our environment. Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons bring multi-age groups of children together to hike (a BIG hike), sneak through the woods, design eco-friendly cards, make natural first aid creams, create Andy Goldsworthy inspired installations, make homes for fairies, and study bugs in self selected "Optionals". And then, on Thursday, all of our students - yes! toddler through eighth grade - come together for stewardship activities and play in the Jessie Bullens-Crewe Nature Preserve in Cumberland.
Bookmark us - and check back here daily for photographs of this week’s amazing adventures…!