We are so thrilled with our Rita and Adam J. Weiner and Family Outdoor Classroom and the myriad of educational opportunities it affords our students. We continue to find new ways to offer enrichment in the areas of science, math, art, music, language arts and much more.
During the past year, we installed a special garden bench honoring Rabbi Ronne Friedman, who very recently retired from his longtime position as Senior Rabbi here at Temple Israel of Boston. Parents and other visitors sit comfortably on the bench while observing the lively Outdoor Classroom scene, and the children occasionally like to take a moment’s break to use the bench as well.
Before the start of school this year during our staff orientation week, our teachers brainstormed how we could transmit some of the goals and values of our school into art. After much discussion and sharing, staff members designed and painted six colorful nature shapes, which are now displayed in our “Gather” area for vibrant inspiration.
Our students love the Outdoor Classroom in every season! In the winter, they created an ice igloo and had tons of fun doing many experiments with snow.
In springtime, the children learned to take care of the garden, retrieving water from the pump and watering the plants. They learned about growing food, as well as sustainability, as the plants are perennials and we will watch for them to come up again each year. A few rabbits stopped by to visit the garden, which led to conversations about animals in our environment, the foods they eat and how we can “share” with them. This fall, we harvested some pumpkins, mint and basil from our garden and these food products were used to make delicious treats in our cooking classes.
While stringing fabric through a large outdoor weaving frame we recently installed, our students work on cooperation and sharing skills as well improving their hand-eye coordination. Mathematical decisions are made as the children decide on patterns to employ as they weave. Climbing and balancing skills are being improved as they walk across a pathway made from tree stumps and a newly installed balance beam.
Many of the students enjoy making music on the marimba. While playing creative tunes, they sing and dance along. One day when an ambulance drove by, they all stopped playing to comment on the sound. “I can make an ambulance sound,” one child said, then stroked the keys of the marimba with the mallet to mimic the sound. This began a discussion among the children about the many sounds in the environment and how to reproduce them with the musical instrument and their voices.
We feel incredibly fortunate to have this wonderful oasis right in the middle of the city, where our young students learn about the natural world, explore and grow in so many ways!