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Kids in the U.S are overweight and recess is being cut back in schools across the nation. In fact, a report from Vermont stated that in 2005 the overweight population had more than doubled in the last twenty years.
A small-town teacher in Quechee, Vermont is taking a new approach for kids to have the much needed recess time in school.
The innovative teacher, Eliza Minnucci, takes her classroom outside into the woods once a week for what she calls “Forest Monday”.
Minnucci got her idea from a documentary in Switzerland where kids spend the whole school day outside. Minnucci keeps order of the classroom while visiting the woods with a few simple rules, however, she let’s them explore how to do and shape things, helping them become more resourceful in their environments.
The students seem to learn quite well, as the article states that standardized test scores are higher in than in the past year. Not too surprising, as recent research shows that being outdoors and having access to green space increases creativity and elevates learning.
In the NPR article, Minnucci says that there are formal lessons too, but she lets them explore real world situations, “I like giving them the opportunity to be in a really complex place where they need to think about how to build a dam with a peer and at the same time, think about staying dry and staying warm.”
The students have enjoyed being outdoors. One boy in the article states that he gets to “play” and doesn’t have to “stay seated forever”.
Active play in the classroom is essential to helping combat childhood obesity. Minnucci, shows her school, teacher and parents that students can have a new place to learn by just stepping outside for class.
To read the full NPR article, or listen online, click here.