Learning Outdoors has Brought More Wonder and Awe to the Classroom at ACS
Ada Christian School has a hidden gem that students eagerly anticipate every year.
Every time they enter a new grade, children dive into a new aspect of integrated Outdoor Education. From tending the greenhouse, to feeding the birds and gathering eggs, to collecting and boiling sap, students love practicing this special stewardship of God’s creation.
I had goosebumps as I listened to Principal Melissa Brower telling me about the amazing things her students are doing, saying and learning. I have to see these incredible spaces for myself!
Students Are Always Creating Something New at ACS
New this year, K – 8th graders are making two dugout canoes! It’s so exciting to see the energy they bring to this project for their outdoor classroom as they chisel, chop and burn the canoes.
“They love the physical nature of this task,” says outdoor education teacher, Bill Hoogstrate. “They travel back in time as they do so, with deep appreciation and some hands on knowledge of the heritage of our land.”
And just in time for the 2020 Lenten season, students created a special pathway through their campus to reflect on Jesus’ life. This Lenten Walk includes a mountain, desert, valley and riverbed.
The kids are so excited to show it off to their special guests and share this time of reflection with them.
Everyone Has a Job to Do at Ada Christian School
Students love being in charge of a different aspect of outdoor education each year. It gives them time to really learn about a particular subject while also anticipating next year’s assignment.
“Through Integrated Outdoor Education, we learn so much about our Creator by taking time to study creation in meaningful and engaging ways,” Melissa says. “It builds such a sense of community.”
Third grade students are the bird watchers and when they enter fourth grade, they become Greenhouse Keepers. Other grades care for the goats, chickens and the hoophouse.
Students of Every Grade Work Together
Ada Christian School students don’t just do their own grade-specific jobs. They also all work together to design, construct and maintain a few incredible features on their campus.
They’ve built Pioneer and Native American villages, and all the students work on maintaining these beautiful structures.
Each spring, the kids tap the maple tree on campus and turn the sap into syrup. They in turn sell that syrup in their market.
“When kids do it themselves, the enthusiasm and the joy for learning jump. It’s hard to measure how high it jumps,” laughs Principal Brower.
Graduates Love Returning to ACS
Seeing the program impact students beyond the walls of the school excites Principal Brower, the teachers and families at Ada Christian School.
Graduates of ACS come back to check out the progress of the cabin and village and see what else has been added. “I don’t think many other graduates do that,” Melissa reflects.
“I just love it here!” she adds. And she’s confident your family will, too!