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Creating Outdoor Classrooms

Schoolyard Habitats and Gardens for the Southwest

By Lauri Macmillan Johnson, with Kim Duffek

Publication Year: 2008

Schoolyards have come a long way from the barren playgrounds that many people remember. Today’s school campuses often feature gardens in which students can learn about native plants and wildlife, grow vegetables and fruit, explore cultural traditions, practice reading and math skills, and use their imaginations to create fun play spaces. And for a growing number of urban students, these schoolyard gardens offer the best, if not the only, opportunity to experience the natural world firsthand and enjoy its many benefits. This book is a practical, hands-on guide for creating a variety of learning environments in the arid Southwest. Filled with clear, easy-to-use information and illustrated with photographs, drawings, and plans, the book covers everything necessary to create schoolyard gardens: • An introduction to schoolyards as outdoor classrooms and several types of habitats, including art gardens, cultural history gardens, ecological gardens, literacy gardens, and vegetable gardens • Design theory, including a history of garden styles, and design principles and design elements • Beginning the design process, including identifying participants and writing a design program that sets out goals and requirements • Conducting site research and synthesizing design elements to arrive at a final design • Design essentials, including project funding and design features, maintenance, accessibility, safety, and project evaluation and revision • Wildlife ecology, including elements needed for survival such as food and shelter • Creating gardens for pollinators and other wildlife, including hummingbirds, butterflies, bees, moths, bats, and flies, as well as pest control • Lists of native plants for various kinds of habitats and nurseries that sell native plants, as well as books, web sites, and other resources for learning more about native plants and wildlife This guide will be essential for landscape architects, school personnel, parents, and students. Indeed, its principles can be used in designing schoolyard habitats across the country, while its information on gardening with native plants and wildlife will be useful to homeowners across the Southwest.

Published by: University of Texas Press


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Title, Copyright Page

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pp. vii-x

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pp. xi-xii

Natural environments are important for people of all ages, but especially for children. Wild places provide young people with opportunities to discover natural phenomena like those described by Mark Twain. Brilliant colors held within streams of sunlight; rainwater creating miniature drainageways in the...


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pp. xiii-xiv

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pp. xv-xx

This publication is intended to provide creative inspiration and guidance toward the implementation of successful outdoor classrooms for integrated learning. Designers of these spaces might consider art, mathematics, science, or, more specifically, native wildlife and plants as opportunities for learning. The text describes...

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Chapter 1: Schoolyards

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pp. 1-22

Schoolyards can be developed as outdoor classrooms that are spirited and interactive places for integrated and place-based learning. Children can play a major role in the design and implementation of the place. Characterized by natural, cultural, and artistic features, schoolyard outdoor classrooms can be dynamic...

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Chapter 2: Design Theory

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pp. 23-44

Theories of design in visual art, architecture, and garden design developed as a reflection of the natural conditions of the environment, cultural influences, and artistic interpretations of the time. This theoretical information is presented to help designers generate strong concepts and alternative layouts as they create...

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Chapter 3: Beginning the Design Process

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pp. 45-72

In designing school campuses, it is important to equally consider all of the indoor and outdoor spaces that will be part of the architecture and landscape architecture of the school, including classrooms, roads, athletic fields, and schoolyard gardens. These should be designed as a whole and harmonious system laid...

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Chapter 4: Site Research and Design Synthesis

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pp. 73-98

Chapter 3, “Beginning the Design Process,” led designers through a process aimed at writing a design program, which includes a statement of goals and objectives, a detailed list of requirements, proposed activities, activity settings, desired design features, and curriculum ideas. Continuing through the process...

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Chapter 5: Design Essentials

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pp. 99-122

Although this book offers special attention to wildlife habitats, with information on additional selected garden themes, school community groups will identify their own specific outdoor needs. With final designs completed, schools will be ready to begin fund-raising and eventually installing the design. Fund-raising...

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Chapter 6: Ecological Principles and Wildlife

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pp. 123-144

Ecology is the pattern of relationships between organisms and their environment. An environment is everything that acts upon an individual or species to shape it, and it contains the elements that ultimately determine survival. Physical factors (such as geologic features and climate), chemical factors (such as...

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Appendix: Regional Plant Tables

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pp. 145-178

The following tables contain plants tailored to each of the arid bioregions of the American Southwest. There is some possibility for overlap between tables, meaning that many of the plants listed on one table will be suitable for other regions as well. Feel free to experiment with those on other tables, for some will meet a project’s requirements and...

References and Additional Reading

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pp. 179-191

E-ISBN-13: 9780292794177
E-ISBN-10: 0292794177
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292717466
Print-ISBN-10: 0292717466

Page Count: 211
Illustrations: 156 line drawings, 152 b&w photos, 1 map, 7 tables
Publication Year: 2008

OCLC Number: 311060466
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Creating Outdoor Classrooms

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Outdoor learning laboratories -- Southwestern States.
  • Nature study -- Southwestern States.
  • School gardens -- Southwestern States -- Design.
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