Grants are available for early learning centers and pre-K through 12th grade public schools in Maine to build an outdoor classroom at their site. Funding is provided through Friends of Acadia to support more youth engagement with Acadia National Park. Outdoor classrooms must be on school grounds and provide a curriculum link to Acadia.
What is an outdoor classroom?
An outdoor classroom is an outdoor educational space that brings learning to life by bringing learning outside. It becomes a gathering place for teachers and students and provides an opportunity to integrate nature into your school grounds. All subjects or curriculum can be presented in an outdoor classroom and can be used in every season. To get started, you need a great plan and plenty of school commitment. Elements of an outdoor classroom can include:
- Natural features (trees, fields, wetlands)
- Outdoor chalkboard and seating
- Gardens (vegetable, butterfly)
- Fitness and balance elements
- Creative space
- Study space
- Attend Professional Development: Staff will participate in training tailored to the content and site of your outdoor classroom project. Training funds will be provided through the grant, but decided upon by school staff. Examples: Project WILD, Project WET, Project Learning Tree, Nature Explore
- Provide Documentation: Provide documentation that students are participating in outdoor learning 18 days of the school year (approximately 10%) through photos, written summaries of student and teacher experiences, and other documentation of your choice. Due by the end of the school year.
- Link Curriculum: Each class using the outdoor classroom must study three lessons throughout the school year which link to current issues in Acadia: natural processes, cultural history, environmental issues, arts in the park, etc. Funds may be used to bring a ranger to your school.
- Optional Field Trip: Each class may attend a field trip to Acadia after using the outdoor classroom and learning about the park. The field trip is optional and will be paid for through the grant.
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.