Schoolyard Habitat Workshops

gARTen Hilltop, 2014 image: Alex Calegari
gARTen Hilltop, 2014
image: Alex Calegari

San Diego Children and Nature Schoolyard Habitat Workshops

There are many facets to the Children and Nature Movement, from natural playgrounds to family nature clubs, each having the goal of connecting children to the natural world. As many landscape architects have recognized, design is a key component to bringing nature into the everyday lives of children. What better place to do this than in the place our children spend most of their waking hours…the schoolyard!

Since its inception in 2009, San Diego Children and Nature (SDCaN) has offered professional learning opportunities to teachers, parents, administrators, and designers on the why’s and how-to’s for integrating nature into schoolyards. Thanks to a grant from San Diego Gas & Electric (SDGE), SDCaN, San Diego Master Gardeners, and Rooted In Place Landscape Architecture and Consulting partnered to host four training workshops in 2015 on Creating Schoolyard Habitats for Play and Learning. The 100+ attendees learned how to design and utilize schoolyard wildlife habitats.

Loma Portal, San Diego image: Ilisa Goldman
Loma Portal, San Diego
image: Ilisa Goldman

Aligning with the US Fish and Wildlife Schoolyard Habitat Project Guide, teachers spend the day learning how to create and use schoolyard habitats. Topics such as vision planning, planting guidelines, and maintenance strategies are covered. From programming and site analysis to implementation and maintenance, teachers are encouraged to involve students in the entire process.  Each step is an interdisciplinary learning opportunity helping to connect students to the world around them, and even the youngest of students can participate in the project.

image: Alex Calegari
image: Alex Calegari

Professional support is essential in empowering teachers to open up the classroom doors. The Schoolyard Habitat Workshops help to highlight these curricular connections through locally relevant resources and hands-on activities. Additionally, SDCaN offers lesson plans for K-5th grade that promote nature-based learning and meet Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Whether a school has an existing habitat garden or just an asphalt lot, teachers are given the tools to discover and explore their schoolyard with their students.

For more information on SDCaN and the Schoolyard Habitat Workshops, please visit SDCaN’s website.

by Ilisa Goldman, RLA, ASLA
Rooted In Place Landscape Architecture and Consulting, Principal
SD Children and Nature, Board of Directors

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