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Gardens Curriculum: An Outdoor Early Childhood Classroom

By Nicole Sander, Cara Haley & Claire Robinson

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Nicole Sander is a Dual Early Education Pre-K/4 & Special Education Pre-K/12 major and Integrative STEM Education Methods minor. She is in her Junior year here at Millersville University and conducted this research for one of her special education classes. Her research examines the use of outdoor classrooms and how they are beneficial to education. Nicole hopes to continue to research outdoor classrooms and have one of her own someday. 

Cara Haley is a junior dual-major student pursuing a BSE in Early Childhood and Special Education with a minor in Integrative STEM Educational Methods. Upon graduating, she hopes to acquire a teaching position in either a STEM position within an Elementary school or a learning support classroom in a middle school. As she has grown throughout her years here at Millersville University, she has been able to gauge the value of exploration and engagement within the classroom. Expanding this idea was the foundation of her project, in hopes to design an outdoor classroom that allows active learners to make connections between the concepts 

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 taught within the classroom and the natural world outside of the classroom. Students are challenged within social, emotional, and behavioral domains to build cooperative relationships with their peers throughout the stations. Cara completed this assignment for her Early Intervention to Kindergarten course, with the guidance of Dr. Deborah Tamakloe, she was able to see her visions come to life.

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Claire Robinson is in her junior year studying Early Childhood and Special Education.  She began this project for a special education class and became very interested in the concept of an outdoor classroom.  As someone who enjoys the outdoors, Claire was inspired by the thought of creating an outdoor learning space with a designated curriculum.  After speaking with an educator who has an outdoor classroom, Claire knew it was something she wanted to do in her future teaching.  She believes that young children should have the opportunity to explore nature and their environment while learning the skills and

concepts they will need for later education.  Through this project, Claire hopes to demonstrate to others that an outdoor classroom is worth the investment.  She plans on creating an outdoor classroom for her future students and will use what she learned to help children discover through nature.

Author's Note: 

We have no known conflict of interest to disclose.

Thank you to our advisor, Dr. Tamakloe, for all your support during this project. Thank you to the Millersville University Positive Grant for sponsoring this project.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Claire Robinson at

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