School's out(side)!

Does your neighborhood school need a facelift? Consider a green schoolyard!

trees, green infrastructure, recreation, landscape, schools, education, children, green schoolyard


Jennifer Martel


Marguerite Anglin


Brittany Coyle

Faced with larger class sizes and tight budgets, schools around the country are realizing the potential for their outdoor spaces to do more heavy lifting when it comes to the daily curriculum. Here are some ideas for schoolyard greening to enhance the school day.

Science: Install a weather station and assign a classroom meteorologist to give the daily weather forecast. Plant a mini-forest and create a nature trail with stations to describe the flora and fauna.

Art: A sculpture garden is a great way for students to publicly display their work. Willows are a wonderful art medium. The fast-growing, flexible wood can be manipulated to create tunnels, forts, boats, or anything else kids can imagine.

Lunch: Edible landscapes help students connect nature and nutrition. A school lunch made from the fruits and vegetables the students worked to cultivate is healthy and delicious.

Recess: Free time is limited, and a green schoolyard will help students make the most of it. Rather than standing around on a blacktop, students can explore, dig, climb, and enjoy their environment.

Gym: Dodge ball is not for everyone. Green schoolyards introduce the potential for walking, tree climbing, and even snow-shoeing.

Social Studies: Creating outdoor gathering spaces for various sized groups encourages positive social interaction and discourages bullying and ostracizing. Holding class in outdoor classrooms encourages students to think about their studies from a different perspective.