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Colwood Elementary unveils new outdoor learning space

Vice-principal Shawn Taal says the new space has seen students’ engagement increase
Vice-principal Shawn Taal instructs students in the new outdoor learning space. (Bailey Moreton/News Staff)

Colwood Elementary School is bringing students into nature with a new outdoor learning space.

The project was built in the summer, funded by grants from the City of Colwood and the BC Teacher’s Foundation, to help provide a new environment for students to learn in.

“You can just see the engagement of the students increase,” said vice-principal Shawn Taal. “So they’re not in the classroom at the desk, doing pencil and paper tasks, they are actually outside with tools with nature around them – having a question that they are discovering the answer to, using their hands.”

The setup includes benches and stumps for sitting on, and an outdoor whiteboard that allows teachers to hold regular lessons outside. The space is available for any class, and is booked on a Google Calendar by teachers.

“It depends on the teachers how they want to use it,” he added.

Students seem to enjoy it too.

“You can get fresh air, that’s good for you, playing outside is good for you too and exploring wilderness is good for you,” said Sage Wistchil, a Grade 3 student.

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Colwood Elementary is a Wild B.C. partner school. Teachers underwent a professional, development session and lessons often include time outside in the forest that stretches along Wishart Road opposite the school. Students have physical education class there sometimes, but also learn about biodiversity, invasive species and about Indigenous people’s connections to the land, with elders sometimes coming to the school to talk to students.