Outdoor Classrooms: a handbook for school gardens is a bright, teacher-friendly, beautifully illustrated reference to entice the reader and the dreamer to enliven children’s school life with outdoor learning adventures.
The book is the culmination of many years’ experience in and out of the classroom for authors Janet Millington and Carolyn Nuttall. It is a must-have reference for school teachers everywhere and a great addition to the library of anyone who teaches sustainability education.
Both school garden pioneers, Janet and Carolyn are experienced primary school teachers and permaculturists. They have combined their extensive teaching experience, gardening knowledge and a passion for creative learning to produce an easy-to-use, teacher-friendly book that is timed perfectly for our rapidly changing world.
“Never before have the lessons learned in a garden been more critical than they are today,” Ms Millington said.
“Learning how to grow healthy food, understand responsible use of water and soils, manage pests without chemicals, share excess, cook healthy meals and live more sustainably are life-long skills children will take into adulthood.
“Outdoor classrooms are places in school grounds that excite children and encourage them to learn more about the world they live in. School gardens act as a catalyst that can usher in a major shift in educational thinking,” she said.
School gardens also get children away from computers and white boards and into the outdoors to learn practical skills.
“Outdoor learning teaches hands-on skills of production, resourcefulness and encourages natural curiosity and creativity,” Ms Nuttall said.
“Teachers are increasingly aware of the need for children to have a hands-on connection to food, to environmental care and the preservation of the earth’s resources and school gardens addresses all those issues.
“The value of school gardens extends beyond the garden too. Children talk to their parents about what they have grown and many encourage their family to start their own backyard food production,” she said.
The book covers all aspects of school gardens, their history, current revival, value, teaching in the garden, food forests, vegetable growing, garden adventures, and most importantly for teachers, how to link the gardens across all school curriculum, making the garden an integral part of the whole school community and beyond.
It also covers all the practicalities of setting up and maintaining a school garden too. It is a gardening book for teachers and a teaching book for gardeners.
The book is filled with start-up information for the school that is looking to extend learning opportunities in the outdoors. There are lesson plans, curriculum links, permaculture solutions and a section called Elementals which covers the essential learnings in garden-based learning for sustainability.
The five exciting prepared units of work will inspire teachers to get outside to engage learners in authentic learning experiences and then to use the templates to plan their own units.