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SALT LAKE CITY — Imagine a classroom with no roof, no desks and no chalkboard. Indian Hills Elementary School teacher Catherine Woolf is using that as her inspiration for a new learning space on campus.
“If children are engaged, the learning just happens. And you can deliver some complex ideas when children are actually outside experiencing them,” first-grade teacher Catherine Woolf said.
The outdoor classroom would be built on a portion of the campus playground. It would include a Native American medicine wheel garden, bird feeders, a bat house and a lot of greenery. Her students couldn’t be happier with the plan.
"I just love being in the fresh air," student Lila Daw said.
"I like being outside more because I love nature and I love to discover things,” student Ella Murdock said.
It would cost nearly $10,000 to construct the space, with all of the funding coming from donations.
"The whole thing needs to be funded by sources outside the school. The school district doesn't have the money for this sort of thing,” Woolf said.
Woolf was able to get a local landscape architect to draw up the layout, free of charge. She has already received about $2,800 in donations. A local landscaper also donated soil and will help construct the outdoor classroom free of charge.
She hopes to collect around $3,000 more through a GoFundMe page* she set up. If the school does meet its goal, all teachers on campus would be able to use the space for their students. Woolf hopes the garden will help students cultivate an awareness and appreciation for the environment.
“As soon as they learn more about the different benefits of the different plants in there, like which ones are going to attract pollinators and why pollinators are so dependent on them for a food source, they understand differently, they own it differently, they love it differently,” Woolf said.
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