Help us build our classroom!
Thanks to our tremendous volunteers who helped us bring our outdoor classroom online for the 2023-2024 school year.
We hope to spend this first year establishing our plants, getting feedback from teachers, students and families, and planning to welcome chickens in the Spring of 2024
If you have questions or are interested in volunteering in the outdoor classroom or on the planning committee, contact Kerry Cashman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This project will be fully funded through family and community donations. To make all of our courtyard dreams come true, we are still looking for your help. Financial donations can be made here: www.givemn.org/organization/Sewardmontessori
In Fall 2022, Seward friends and families helped the PTA to raise the funding needed for an outdoor classroom to be developed in Seward's interior courtyard.
The courtyard committee worked hard during the 2022-2023 school year, and over teh summer, to bring Seward's outdoor classroom vision to life. Check out the master plan approved by MPS in 2022.
This outdoor classroom aims to take on a natural feel similar to nature play areas in nature preserves located throughout the Twin Cities. The classroom will be sectioned into 4 main parts:
- Native plantings and shrubs
- Activity lawn
- Nature experience area
- Chickens* and vegetable garden
In addition there will be picnic tables and two Montessori circle spaces.
The classroom will have water and electricity. It will be maintained by building engineers and school staff over the school year. During breaks, the committee will coordinate volunteers to keep the plantings watered.
*We are working with the City of Minneapolis to bring chickens into our outdoor classroom. Once approved they will live in the existing structure, currently located in the courtyard.
- Fall 2022: Raise funds for an outdoor classroom at Seward Montessori
- Winter 2022/2023: Create the vision and get approval from the district
- Spring 2023: Source the materials
- Summer 2023: Pour concrete and plant plants
- Fall 2023: Open the outdoor classroom
Beginning Fall 2023, Jackie Schwartz will be starting a new position as the Outdoor Learning Coordinator! She is currently getting up to speed on all the resources available for us next year. She will be collaborating with all staff and hope to make curriculum plans over 2023 summer.
This is not a specialist position but rather one that works closely with the teaching staff to provide curriculum, field trips etc to enhance classroom studies with outdoor learning time and managing the courtyard. This first year will be a time to develop and discover best practices within our outdoor classroom. This could mean supervising students who want to read in the courtyard on beautiful days, providing hands-in-the-dirt activities, conducting daily science and measuring experiments with groups of children, i.e. rain/snowfall, temperature, etc. It will be a peaceful, nature-filled learning environment.
The biggest challenge will be our seasons. Fortunately Jackie has been studying spring ephemerals and hopes to have as many early bloomers in our garden as possible. She also loves the winter, and being outside. She and Donna, our art teacher, look forward to building snow and ice sculptures with the students. This year, she also introduced the Hi-Five students to cross country skiing and is collecting more equipment to expand the offering to more students next year.
Jackie has educated neighborhoods about native plants. We now have an incredible continuous block of native gardens, and have so much wildlife around us, because of it. Her first year goal will be creating an awareness of the natural environment and the need to respect all the flora and fauna around us. One of her first projects is to adopt all the trees in our school yard.