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Friday, January 31, 2014

Nature is part of the learning environment at Westlawn Elementary School

A pleasant setting for story time at Westlawn Elementary School.
Learning at Westlawn Elementary School in Falls Church isn’t confined to the classrooms. The instructional program is enhanced through experiences with the natural world via the school’s outdoor discovery area.

A new “storytelling chair,” developed as part of an Eagle Scout project, is used for outdoor reading lessons, as well as a setting students to listen to stories told by teachers and classmates, says teacher Carol Hunt.

An obstacle course in the outdoor discovery area was used for  teaching students positional words, like “around,” “through,” “across,” and “over.” Students also built a “squirrels’ nest” for creative play.

Teachers and students will plant a garden when it warms up, and Hunt is planning to install an outdoor loom for weaving with natural materials. Another project on the school’s “to do” list is  a storage area for organizing “building supplies”—such as small branches, pieces of wood, and PVC pipe—in milk crates. Students use the materials in the “small parts building area.”

Westlawn is hosting a conference April 26 on “Collaborating Outside.” It’s aimed at helping teachers incorporate the natural world in their instruction but it’s open to the public, too.

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