At DC, we believe that outdoor learning enriches the curriculum, enhances the joy of learning, and serves as a wonderful platform for observing the handiwork and intentionality of God, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe
Opening doors to new ways of learning...
DC Early Childhood and Lower School students experience the blessings of our beautiful thirty-three acre campus as their teachers take the learning outdoors to our sprawling hills, hardwood forest, running stream, pond and meadow- a wonderful outdoor context for deeper learning! Whether scooping up tadpoles from the nearby pond, or conducting stream studies, the school grounds enable students to think deeply, work collaboratively, practice observation skills, and solve problems in a real world setting. For many, learning outdoors intensifies the learning experience as students apply their learning within a new context. It is not uncommon to see students exploring the outdoor classroom during outdoor play, Bible, math, reading, science and creative writing classes. The elementary years are foundational to introducing science content as well as developing skills for observation and investigation. Young students are naturally inquisitive and often develop an interest in science early on. Spending time outdoors has many positive benefits for students, including promoting a positive attitude about science and learning, teaching environmental stewardship, and increasing student achievement. From the earliest observation of watching chlorophyll disappear from changing foliage, to discovering “invisible” pond animals swim under a microscope, students’ natural curiosity is piqued when given the opportunity to be outside in nature.
Nature studies are an integral part of science learning. Pre-K students maintain our bird gardens and frequently walk the nature trail observing signs of the seasons. Sunflowers grow taller than the kindergarteners who sowed them as they learn about plants and care for the sunflower garden. A wide variety of wildlife on the campus provide many teachable moments for first graders learning about animal habitats. Second graders are diligently composting and doing their part to participate in environmental stewardship. Third graders maintain two butterfly gardens as they annually tag and release monarch butterflies as part of their annual migration. Fourth graders learn about conservation, protecting our natural resources and biodiversity. Fifth graders excitedly chase after fiddler crabs as they experience the seashore ecosystem first hand as part of their field trip to Cape May beaches. Every fall and spring, Nature Explorers can be found busily caring for the school grounds, investigating signs of wildlife and serving as habitat helpers.
Our school grounds received the Wildlife Habitat Certification by the National Wildlife Federation and the Delaware Nature Society. This certification recognizes our Lower School’s efforts to create school grounds that improve habitat for birds, butterflies, frogs, and other wildlife by providing essential elements needed by all wild life – natural food sources, clean water, cover, and places to raise young. As teachers provide authentic learning experiences outdoors, students are able to problem solve, work collaboratively, think deeply, create and reflect- adding to the joy of learning for students of all ages.