Elementary school in Sudbury getting lots of use out of outdoor classroom

Jaime McKee CTV News Northern Ontario Videojournalist

SUDBURY — Lansdowne Public School in Sudbury has slowly been getting upgrades to its outdoor yard.

Last year the school participated in the ‘Ugliest Schoolyard’ contest and won. The revitalization of the yard started three years ago, even before the ‘Ugliest Schoolyard’ contest.

The Kiwanis Club came to Lansdowne Public school and, with help from students, a brand new ‘Gaga Ball’ pit was built, that is used at recess and in physical education class.

When crowned champions of the ‘Ugliest Schoolyard’ contest, the committee came, in along with VETAC, and planted five silver maple trees.

This past September, the yard received its first ever outdoor classroom, provided by the Rainbow District School Board.

The outdoor learning area is fully equipped with desks and chairs, made out of tree stumps, as well as a waterproof black board for teachers to do their lessons from.

“The kids love it,” said principal Jennifer Harvey.

“We find that they’re much more focussed outside. It gives them a change from the indoor classroom with four walls, so we’re finding a lot of engagement from the outdoor classroom.”

The outdoor classroom comes at the perfect time, as students are facing the challenge of attending school during a global pandemic.

Breath of fresh air

Harvey said the outdoor classroom is very popular, and that she often sees classes learning outside. Teachers reserve the space, and must sanitize each desk and chair before taking their class out.

“I love it — it’s a breath of fresh air,” said Grade 1/2 Teacher Jennifer Lannan. “It’s a new environment for us to learn in. We get to see and learn about observations around us, so it’s been great.”

Her students also seem to be enjoying it.

“When Ms. Lannan tells us to come outside, I get excited,” said Grade 2 student Neala Shain

“When Ms. Lannan tells us to come outside, I get a little bit excited,” added Ahmat Abakar who’s also in Grade 2.

With the winter months quickly approaching, Landsdowne staff are trying to use the outdoor space as much as they can right now. Even when the snow does fall, there is hope the classroom will still get some use.

“We try to get students out throughout the winter,” said Harvey. “Anytime we are outside, there (are) learning opportunities, so we will definitely try to use it as much as we can given the temperatures.”

The tree stump desks are so spaced out, it allows students to remain physically distanced while getting fresh air as they learn outside.

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