I met Victoria Hackett M.Ed. at the 2019 Natural Start Alliance conference in Manchester, New Hampshire. Victoria’s an incredibly interesting woman on a mission “to inspire teachers & school communities to make their own outdoor classrooms and to do so on a shoestring budget.” A gal after my own heart.
She attended my session “Landscapes for Autism: Sensory-Supportive Play, Learning, and Therapeutic Environments, and How to Build Them Yourself!“ In the session I talked about my own sensory garden construction process. Turns out she’s working on one at her home too!
A few months after the conference, I got an email from Victoria asking if I would be interested in being interviewed for her Outdoor Classrooms Summit. I didn’t need any convincing. Of course I would!
Victoria put together a five-day online event that “invites Natural Teachers to ‘dig deep’ and explore all the options for creating a one-of-a-kind Outdoor Classroom.” The Summit includes video conversations with eight leaders in the children and nature movement, with a diversity of perspectives in what makes great play, learning, and therapeutic landscapes for children of all ages and abilities.
The 2020 Outdoor Classrooms Summit is available, head on over to get inspired!
The Summit is organized into 4 Garden types: Gardens That Feed, Gardens as Outdoor Learning Stations, Gardens That Attract Wildlife, and Gardens for Art and Beauty. Whether you’re a parent interested in transforming an area of your yard, or you’re a teacher interested in building a school garden, this is the right stuff to spark ideas.
The Summit at a glance:
Day 1. Welcome Keynote. Seeds of Inspiration for Outdoor Learning with Victoria Hackett M. Ed.
Day 2. Gardens That Feed. The Salad Days and Harvest Days Garden Program with Lara Lepionka from Backyard Growers AND Cultivate Joy and Wonder through Nature, Food, & Community with Jed Norris from Shelburne Farms.
Day 3. Gardens as Outdoor Learning Stations. Messy Math Outdoors with Juliet Robertson from Creative Star Learning AND The Just Play Project with Rusty Keeler from Earthplay (I’m a huge fan of Rusty’s work, BTW).
Day 4. Gardens That Attract Wildlife. Save Our Monarchs One Milkweed at a Time with Ward Johnson from Save Our Monarchs AND Not Gardens, but Guardians – The Rise of the Enlightened Yard with David Newsom from The Wild Yards Project.
Day 5. Gardens for Art and Beauty. Horticultural Therapy Activities for All Ages with Bobbie Make from Growth Through Gardening AND (c’est moi!) The Power of Sensory Gardens with Jena Jauchius from SPVV Landscape Architects.
Wander through the Outdoor Classrooms website. There’s so much great, easy to implement information (remember part of her mission statement is doing this on a shoestring budget).
Pick yourself up the Seeds of Inspiration card deck to help get you in the creative, nature-loving, outdoor classroom mindset. You never know what amazing things you can accomplish until you try. And, Victoria, the amazing people listed above, and I are here to help!