Nature-based learning classes still meeting daily outside for school

Jessica Miles
Updated: December 22, 2020 06:25 PM
Created: December 21, 2020 09:04 PM

Outside at the Bertram Chain of Lakes Regional Park in Monticello, pre-k and kindergarten students are exploring the great outdoors, learning and playing as they go.

"It's not just about playing, it's about learning, too, that's what kindergarten is for," 6-year-old Sonja explained.

She's enrolled in a nature-based learning program through the school district.

There are three sites for elementary students; this one offers wooded trails, a lake and beach.

"When it's snowing, I like to mix up the sand and snow together," Sonja shared.

Using tools from nature and finding small treasures everywhere they look, these students have been able to stay in school amid the pandemic by being outside.

Monticello schools look to nature-based classes during COVID-19 pandemic

Other than lunch, bathroom breaks and quick warm-ups when needed, the students are outside between 70% and 90% of each day.

"I am very thankful to still have the opportunity to still teach in person, and I think the space that we have just makes it doable," kindergarten Teacher Amanda Hanson said.

Hanson said students have indoor space with lap desks and technology, and they still do all the same curriculum.

"We still do our math and reading and standards, but we just do it outside and do it that way," she said.

During a pandemic where social distancing is recommended, the program has been a hit, with a waiting list of students wanting to learn like this.

"It's just such a great opportunity to explore and learn in a way that they want to," Hanson said.

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