An action-packed Fall at VHE’s outdoor classrooms!

A lot of activity has been seen out in the VHE outdoor classrooms lately!

One of the goals we set out to achieve when we started our outdoor classroom initiative in 2010 was to have teachers incorporate outdoor learning into their regular activities. Guess what? Goal achieved. And then some! VHE students regularly spend time learning and playing in our outdoor classroom spaces, and our VHE teachers and Principal Peg Keeler have played central roles in embracing the opportunities.

This week, fourth graders helped compost and install new stepping stones in the pollinator garden. Here’s Mr. C leading a composting effort. Go Mr. C!

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It’s essential that kids learn to use tools. It’s one guiding principle for VHE’s outdoor classrooms.


Step stones as free weights. Guess who came inside after this activity and could focus really well?

Here is a sampling of projects from Ms. Cantwell’s Art classes, full of nature references and materials. We love Ms. Cantwell!

Kindergarteners are learning about color theory. Be sure to ask them about primary and secondary colors. First graders are letting their imaginations take them to far off places with a Magic Treehouse project. Second grade is creating their first weaving from a beautiful collection of papers, which will prepare them for fiber weaving in the future. Third grade is starting an amazing project about a turtle that grows a garden on her back. Their love of nature, artistic talents and patience makes this project perfect for this group of kids! Fourth grade just finished up mandalas and is staring to make dream catchers…ask them about the glow sticks role in this project. And fifth graders are learning about and creating their own Mexican Bark painting. This project ends up being one of great pride for students.

Mrs. Cantwell also reports that the garden mosaic, guided by Artist/Gardener in residence, Megan Cain, is awaiting installation.

This fabulous garden mosaic will be installed on a wall of the new VHE/Hamilton library addition!

A close-up of the fabulous new garden mosaic that will be installed on a wall of the new VHE/Hamilton library addition!

And more outdoor action from Mrs. Koval’s PE classes! She’s always getting the kids moving in new and exciting directions.

We are FALL’in in love with being outside on these gorgeous autumn days! During Walk to School week, every 2nd – 5th grade class enjoyed walking and running on our 1 mile course which encircles the VHE campus. Our hearts and lungs got a great workout and we also discussed the mental benefits of exercise – growing brain cells, releasing hormones to help us in learning and helping us regulate our mood and energy level. We also spent a week “harvesting the heart” by participating in functional fitness in the Waukesha gardens. Students used their muscles to dig out old plants and weeds and haul them to our new compost bins (thanks Ms. Mahr’s family!) along with a few garden fitness stations to round out the class time.


2 thoughts on “An action-packed Fall at VHE’s outdoor classrooms!

  1. Hi Mary, I love reading about all the projects the students at your school are doing in the garden. I am a parent volunteer. I would love to connect with you and learn how I can help our students better utilize our garden space. Thank you.

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