Milbridge Elementary School develops outdoor classroom

7th grader, Jacey Moores, sits on a tree stump overlooking Milbridge Elementary School's Outdoor Classroom.
7th grader, Jacey Moores, sits on a tree stump overlooking Milbridge Elementary School's Outdoor Classroom.(WABI)
Published: Sep. 2, 2020 at 5:14 PM EDT
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MILBRIDGE, Maine (WABI) - As schools around the state reopen, many are looking at alternative ways of learning during a pandemic

Some, have chosen to add outdoor classrooms so kids can spread out and socially distance, including Milbridge Elementary School.

“It’s a good combination of a very functional space for teachers and students to use, as well as a great learning experience,” explained Joseph Horn, Co-founder of Maine Outdoor School.

Horn and Hazel Stark are making it their mission to take the classroom outside.

The registered Maine guides co-founded Maine Outdoor School.

They’ve helped nearly a dozen schools in Hancock and Washington Counties create spaces for an outdoor classroom, including Milbridge Elementary School.

It’s all made possible through a partnership with the TREE program.

The space behind school grounds features a circle of tree stump seats and an outdoor chalkboard.

“You can use visuals, draw in it, and give kids an opportunity to express themselves in nature creatively,” said third grade teacher, Alison Wallace.

“They’ll be able to come out, take a whole classroom, focus on whether it’s that worksheet they were going to do in the classroom but they can do it outside, or do some outdoor focused learning, too,” said Stark. “They’ll be able to have the space.”

Third and fifth graders have been using part of the area for a couple of years.

Recently, sixth graders cleared a trail to help the classroom grow.

Jacey Moores enjoyed the hands-on experience.

“We cleared all the paths. We cut down some trees,” said Moores. “It was really fun!”

Teachers are not expected to necessarily teach about the outdoors, they can choose to incorporate nature into their lessons.

“Where I teach Language Arts, it would be easy to bring novels outside and read and discuss them. In Social Studies, we could do the same thing,” said fifth and sixth grade teacher, Carol Lisee.

Teachers here hope this outdoors classroom provides students a safe place to learn, while allowing them to be surrounded by all that Maine has to offer.

“Teachers are trying to find more ways to connect with kids and get them out in nature instead of in front of a computer and doing pencil and paper tests. I’m excited for this to happen,” said Wallace.

“I hope we can do a lot of stuff out here because we’ve never done this before, and I think it will be really fun,” said Moores.

School begins on Tuesday, September 8.

Teachers hope they’ll be able to make use of the space as much as possible during the school year, even during the winter months.

To learn more about Maine Outdoor School visit their website.

Check out WABI TV5 evening news tonight (9/2/20) to learn about Milbridge Elementary School 's new and improved outdoor...

Posted by Maine Outdoor School on Wednesday, September 2, 2020

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