Students Learn with Nature: Prince Edward Creates New Outdoor Learning Spaces
Susan Walker surveys the vast space that makes up Prince Edward School’s playground. “We’ve got big plans for this area,” Walker says passionately. Walker, a Grade 7/8 teacher and Teacher Coordinator of Prince Edward’s Eco Team is in the process of designing and implementing an interactive environmental space that will encompass the school’s large playground and field.
Currently, the project is in the initial planning phase where Walker and a committee made up of teachers and students have asked students, staff and community members for suggestions on what to include in the space. Such suggestions include a meditation garden, climbing walls, a picnic area and a hummingbird garden. An interactive musical garden has already been approved and is being funded by the Windsor Essex Community Foundation’s Kid Start Mini Grant program.
“It is important for our students to have a sense of appreciation for our natural environment and the outdoors,” Walker says. “If we can create engaging outdoor spaces for students that peak their interest about the environment then they will become more responsible environmental users as adults.”
This last major playground venture will be the crowning jewel of the many environmental projects that have already been implemented throughout the past years.
“We have created some really great nature spaces for our students to enjoy.” Walker says proudly. “This last undertaking is an enormous endeavor and will complete our vision.”
Under the leadership of Walker and Prince Edward’s Eco Team, Prince Edward has already implemented a Nature Nook, a fully operational vegetable garden and a Native Tall Grass prairie garden called the Pacer Prairie.
The Pacer Prairie was created in 2009, when Prince Edward won first place and $10,000 from the “How Green Is Your School” contest primarily sponsored by Windsor Crossings Retail Centre.
Prince Edward’s Nature Nook and the Pacer Prairie provide a quiet place for classes to learn while enjoying the outdoors. The school’s vegetable garden grows fresh vegetables which are used for the school’s snack program and school events such as Meet the Teacher Night and Grade 8 Graduation.
“In September during Meet the Teacher night we served caprese salad and we used our own garden grown tomatoes and basil,” says Teresa Iandolo, Principal of Prince Edward School. “We were inundated with compliments on how delicious the tomatoes were. It was wonderful to be able to say that they were our very own Prince Edward grown tomatoes.”
To fund this current playground project, the committee is raising money through the collection of Canadian Tire money and other fundraisers. “We are taking it one step at a time but I am sure that we will succeed,” says Walker. “When Prince Edward students put their mind to something, they are successful. The community just has to see the wonderful areas that have already been created and how much Prince Edward students love the outdoors.”
Susan Walker, Teacher Coordinator of Prince Edward’s Eco Team surveys Prince Edward’s large playground, visualizing Prince Edward’s future interactive environmental space.