Outdoor Learning Environment at Bridges

The Bridges Outdoor Learning Environment (OLE) is a wonderful space to take learning outdoors and allow students to get their hands dirty learning about nature. 

The magic of the OLE was started by Cheryl Sprecher and others when the school was first built. Bridges Outdoor Learning Committee is dedicated to maintaining and improving the space and educating staff on how to use the OLE for learning opportunities. Here are some of the highlights and results of the volunteer Outdoor Learning Committee's work.

Over the last few years the committee has written grants to be used to purchase gardening tools and with the help of McFarlane's bought buckets, gloves, shovels and child sized wheelbarrows.

Beautiful benches were created by a local craftsman to create teaching spaces and a large storybook adventure outlines the area.

Ace Hardware recently donated several bags for gardening.

Over the last few years, the volunteer committee made up of teachers has created lesson plans each month for the school and this year created grade specific lessons for each season.

Thanks to funding by a Kohl Grant, the committee was able to bring in expert naturalists to teach staff practical and creative ways to tie outdoor learning into everyday lessons. Sue Johansen Mayoleth, a naturalist from the Devils Lake DNR visited staff in late August to educate staff about the research behind getting students outside as well as strategies for cooperative discovery. Staff were able to use digital microscopes to examine the outdoor area surrounding the school.

Sue returned to Bridges with fellow naturalist, Jackie Scharfenberg, in January to model teaching outdoors with each class of kindergarten to second grade students. Students learned how to match and hunt for animal tracks, learned the science behind scat and were able to share some fun observations.

What amazing cooperation that has created this wonderful outdoor learning environment for our students!