Skip To Main Content

Select a School

Outdoor Education

Outdoor Classroom

Welcome to Seward's Outdoor Education Program
In 2023-2024, Seward hired Jackie Schwartz as the Outdoor Learning Coordinator. She collaborates with all staff to bring outdoor education to all classrooms at Seward. 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. 

Seward Outdoor Classroom Concept Design
In 2023-2024, Seward also opened an outdoor classroom, which 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 are picnic tables and two Montessori circle spaces. The classroom has 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. 

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. This project was fully funded by the Seward family and community donations.