Geographies of Children

The Park as a Learning Space

Through the course of our interviews, we saw several relationships to the park as a space of learning. The students had strong relationships with environmental science and PE in the park, but other subjects were less beloved.

“It was either kindergarten or first grade, we made this little scrapbook type of thing that had pockets and we put leaves and acorns and pine cones and pine needles in a separate bag, then we stapled them in and made a cover that said ‘Park’ um, ‘Things We Find in the Park.’ I remember stuff really well.” Student 24

“we read a book and the person was blind, so um we went to the-and they couldn’t see and they were out in the wilderness so they had to hunt for their food and stuff like that. So we just imagined-or not imagined-we went out in the park. We um, we heard with our ear. And we were like, “What did you you hear?” And we wrote it down and stuff like that.” Student 25

“….then we went down to the park and we wrote down what we heard and it was called, we were doing hearing with our eyes and we closed our eyes and listened for five minutes and then we wrote down what we heard.”Student 15

I was with Ms. Webb, and she would give us a choice to say you can go over there down the hill and explore, but our whole class would choose to go down the, um, down there to explore and do your work. To, um, discover vascular and non-vascular plants. ” Student 6

 “um, we like, watch plants or something, and take notes of what we see”Student 2

“I usually just go play on the rocks and all we do in class is work and watch PBS kids”Student 21

Physical Education at the study school utilizes the Park well and provides students with unique opportunities to learn outdoor skills including fishing and wayfinding.  Below are some quotes from student interviews:

 “In this area there are a bunch of little fishies and snapping turtles…You can fish it but it’s catch and release fishing only.”  The student learned this from “one of the resource teachers we had last year…P.E., Physical Education” -Student 22

“for PE sometimes we go down there and we do this game where we [roll] a dice and a certain number means we go a certain way [down a particular path] even if it was a way we didn’t want” – Student 9

“when I go to P.E., we normally go to the log because that’s, um, a calm spot and a play area. And you can go across [the creek] there.” – Student 6

 “We did it last year [in PE] but I didn’t catch a fish.  There’s fish in there though! You can catch them but you have to release them” -Student 21

“Well, in fourth grade we did this…PE thing.  We went fishing in the pond” -Student 25