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Outdoor Learning Environments
Margit Heinrichs | Lower School Principal

Not All Classrooms Have Four Walls…

“We must teach our children to smell the earth, to taste the rain, to touch the wind, to see things grow, to hear the sunrise and nightfall – to care.” – John Cleal.

Outdoor learning environments at EAB are a beautiful extension of indoor learning spaces. The purpose of an outdoor learning environment is to encourage students to be active, to give them a break from being indoors, and to support learning in various ways. 

Some planned activities include outdoor writing and reading groups, finding a perfect spot for playing musical instruments and having fun climbing a wall. In contrast, others are discovery and play-based outdoor activities.

For example, instead of writing inside the classroom, our grade 2 teachers took students outdoors to collect items from nature. After collecting their items, students used their imagination to create the main character in their fantasy story.

Here are some moments and places that our learners use as outdoor learning spaces:

Grade 2 Outdoor Writing Class

Outdoor Music Class


Outdoor Play Areas


Grade 5 Outdoor Learning Space


Lower School Zen Garden


ECP Sensory Garden

Our ECP Sensory Garden dream started as a collaborative project within the different departments (Environmental Coordinator, Operational Assistant, Lower School Administration, and teachers). And this is the result!

In this beautiful classroom without walls, students have the opportunity to play, smell, feel, touch, and hear sounds in multiple ways. It looks like a scene taken from a storybook and staged outdoors. And each time students enter the sensory garden, it's like a new epic adventure. That spirit motivates students to explore, observe and learn new things. 

It helps students to get the much-needed time away from screens and gives them a healthy dose of fresh air and new energy. Students learn new lessons from the world around them. 

Research shows that there are many benefits to children playing outside. They can release energy, use loud voices, play vigorously, and engage in messy projects outdoors. In addition, children can explore the plants and animals in their local ecosystem. Research has helped us identify many other benefits to playing outdoors (Children and Nature Network, 2012), such as:

  • Better physical health
  • Numerous opportunities to strengthen motor skills
  • Stress relief
  • Greater visual-motor integration (or the ability to control hand or body movement guided by vision)
  • Greater creativity
  • Stronger verbal and social skills
  • Production of vitamin D (an essential vitamin for bone health) through exposure to sunlight
  • Increased attention and cognitive abilities

"Restore balance. Most kids have technology, school, and extracurricular activities covered. It's time to add a pinch of adventure, a sprinkle of sunshine, and a big handful of outdoor play."- Penny Whitehouse.