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Outdoor Spaces

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Children learn in different ways. Some learn through observation—seeing, listening and reading. Others respond to “doing”—jumping in and trying things out for themselves.

Embracing and incorporating varied learning styles is what sets children up for success. So do learning settings. Given flexibility is a core aspect of teaching, Vancouver School District teachers are again showcasing their flexibility and adaptability this year in new and exciting ways.

Sir Alexander Mackenzie, Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith and John Norquay are currently undergoing redevelopment and are expected to be ready for use soon.

“We continue to create more outdoor spaces for children to use,” says Lori Thomsen, principal, Nootka Elementary. “Outdoor classrooms and gardens give students an opportunity to engage in gardening activities and to learn about food and nutrition.”

“Outdoor learning and gardening are about more than food and nutrition,” she added. “Gardens also teach students about equity and equality. By learning about different plants and what they need to thrive, equity, children learn that not all plants are the same or equal, and that you must tend to all the plants for the garden to thrive.”

At Dr. R. E. McKechnie Elementary School, students are enjoying the fresh air while learning about the Indigenous ways of knowing the land, sea and air. They are also learning about our natural surroundings and the importance of sustainability while comfortably seated in the school’s gardens.

"A unique approach to learning became even more important in the last year as we adapted to the challenges of global pandemic,” says Ankie Carswell, principal at McKechnie. “We thought more broadly about our spaces and how to better use them and the outcome has been pretty special for students and teachers,” adds Kristin Lum-Tong, kindergarten teacher.

To create the outdoor classroom, old benches were removed and the ground was levelled and covered with fine crushed limestone for accessibility for all students. The areas shown include boulder benches and teaching podiums as well as an area for students to socialize under large trees.

The Vancouver School District remains committed to working together in education with students and families -- indoors and outdoors.

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