1st Grade Science – Plants!

First graders spent time in one of the many school gardens collected marigold seed. This gardening activity was part of science class where they were learning about what plants need to live and grow. They also were learning about the life cycle of a plant.

Cherokee Culture Part of Outdoor Education

Students at The Learning Center Charter School are outside a portion of each school day. The school has an official screened room dubbed The Outdoor Learning Center as well as numerous gardens and trails.

Students regularly can be found doing art, reading, learning science, participating in PE, learning math, gardening, or having recess outdoors.

“Having our students outside is just what we’ve always done,” said Shelley Farmer, physical education staff and STEM coordinator at the school. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math.

“Our campus sits right near the river and Cherokee elders have told us that it would have been prized Cherokee land,” said Farmer.  “That in addition to the Cherokee people and culture so prevalent in our region, we make it a point to study the tribe, their language, culture, and traditions each school year.”

Farmer added that students are learning new Cherokee words each week. Students recently learned that osiyo means hello in Cherokee.

The school also includes traditional crafts in their studies. Students recently made Dream Catchers from natural materials found around the school’s Outdoor Learning Center.

“Being outside engages students by providing a living environment to observe, discover, experiment, nurture, and learn,” said Farmer. “Layering on the culture of the Cherokee Nation enriches those experiences.”

Class in the Great Outdoors

Students at The Learning Center Charter School are accustomed to being outside during the school day because teachers use the outdoors as an extension of the classroom as often as possible.

“Learning outdoors is a cornerstone of our educational philosophy,” said Ryan Bender, head of school.  He added that the great outdoors provides the perfect setting for all subjects. “Most people will tell you that being outside is the perfect place for teaching a science lesson.  And, they are right!  But, the outdoors is also hugely beneficial when teaching reading, social studies, math, and art.”

According to National Wildlife Federation, American Institutes of Research, and the Sierra Club, when children are taught in the outdoors, better test scores, higher grade point averages, decreased behavior problems, and improved health are the result.    

“We have an Outdoor Learning Center at our school that is a screened classroom,” said Bender.  In addition to the classroom, classes also meet around the fire pit, among the school’s many gardens, and along the trails around the school.

Outdoor Learning at TLC

Our school has always put an emphasis on being outdoors. Our teachers take students outdoors for lessons on science, to engage in garden based learning, to read and write in the outdoors, to engage in physical education, and for countless other reasons. It’s part of the reason we have a dedicated outdoor space that we call the Outdoor Learning Center. The outdoors offers an expansion of our classroom walls as well as the space for students to spread out and move their bodies.

As our new school year unfolds during the Covid-19 pandemic, be assured that our students will continue to be outdoors as often as possible.

This specific area will be used often by EC students.

Why do we emphasize Garden Based Learning?

Students at TLC aren’t strangers to getting their hands dirty.  Why?  Because gardening engages students by providing a living environment to observe, discover, experiment, nurture, and learn.

Gardens are living laboratories where our students learn everything from team work to food production and lessons can be taught across the curriculum.

Gardening encourages students to become active participants in the learning process.

Although our students were not on campus this spring to bring our gardens to life, Ms. Emily was sure to still plant flowers and vegetables to beautiful our campus during the global pandemic.

Outdoor Science Activities During Remote Learning

During this remote learning environment that our students and staff have been experiencing as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, elementary science teacher, Ms. Emily, has included activities in her science lessons that get students outside exploring the outdoors.

Students were tasked with an outdoor challenge to build a fairy fort or a troll tower to welcome tiny outdoor friends. Students had a wonderful time at home interacting with the great outdoors to create beautiful dwellings.  

Additionally, students were also guided on how to take tree and leaf rubbings to help properly identify trees in nature.

3rd Grade Science…and Snack

Third graders recently enjoyed DIY microwave popcorn grown in the TLC garden. An heirloom breed called pappys gems was grown and students microwaved it simply in a brown paper bag avoiding the chemicals often included in microwave popcorn. A science lesson with a snack was a hit for all!