The movement to enrich outdoor learning environments on school grounds and connect children with nature took an important leap forward with the adoption of a new California state resolution that encourages school districts to design and construct schoolyard green spaces and use them to teach academic curricula outdoors. Authored by Assemblymember Phil Ting of San Francisco (D), the Living Schoolyard Month Resolution (ACR-128), adopted on June 16, 2014, establishes an annual, statewide celebration of school grounds to be held each year in May. This May will be the first annual event for schools around the state.
What is Living Schoolyard Month?
California schools will be participating in the first Living Schoolyard Month by bringing more of their academic classes outside for hands-on lessons during the month of May, and establishing practices that they can use throughout the year. Many schools and other organizations across the state are also holding community celebrations, schoolyard work parties and gardening classes in honor of this first annual event.
The new Living Schoolyard Month resolution is an important milestone in California’s approach to promoting outdoor green spaces for all children in K-12 public schools and for the state’s thriving green schoolyard movement. Building on the success of previous school garden programs, it expands the depth and breadth of outdoor education beyond horticulture and nutrition to connect schoolyard greening to the health of urban ecosystems, child development needs, and the quality of life for students and their local communities.
Living schoolyards are rich environments that connect nature and environmental sustainability with place-based learning, hands-on curricula and imaginative play, while building community. Living schoolyards can encompass a variety of school greening efforts outdoors, including everything from vegetable gardens to stormwater management or renewable energy demonstrations.
How can you get involved?
- Plan a project to make your schoolyard greener or assist a local school by volunteering on a work day
- Organize events to celebrate and use your school’s existing green space
- Spread the word about Living Schoolyard Month
- Recommend that your city government includes schoolyard ecology as a component of their green city planning efforts
- Encourage your school district to support ecological schoolyards and outdoor classrooms that improve children’s learning and play environments and enhance neighborhood ecology
- Try some new things outside with PreK-12 students by downloading a free copy of the 2015 Living Schoolyard Month Activity Guide, which includes schoolyard activity ideas contributed by 40+ organizations.
- Write about your May celebrations of Living Schoolyard Month and share them with us at: info at greenschoolyardsamerica dot org
- Join California’s statewide Living Schoolyard Network by contacting Sharon Danks (Green Schoolyards America, sharon at greenschoolyardsamerica dot org) or Teresa Lees (CREEC, teresa at creec dot org)