Why build a nature park?
As a school, we are a community of teachers and learners, always striving to improve how we educate children. That said, we have decided to study the Expeditionary Learning model this year as a staff, specifically learning how to apply Ron Berger’s approach to building a culture of excellence in our school. In this spirit of learning, the Running River Nature Park Project was born in an attempt to blend some of the principles of the EL Education model with our vision of education that strives to deeply connect children to themselves, humanity, and the planet. The entire school is creating this project on part of our 3.5 acre property throughout the length of the school year, with each classroom contributing various elements that will all come together to create a space for both people and wildlife to visit and thrive. As the children so aptly put it, the park is "to help people connect to nature." Beginning in science class, the scope of work will slowly spread to other subject areas, integrating math, language arts, physical education, and the arts throughout the process. The public opening ceremony, Thursday, May 25th, will include dance, art, music, theater and presentations. We hope you will attend!
Click here to see a video of the whole school critiquing the model park they created with their own models.
The K-1 Class will be creating a wildflower garden to attract pollinators, a building area, and simple bird feeders.
The 2-4 Class will be studying local birds, writing a field guide and building bird nest boxes to attract more wildlife to the park, as well as a rock garden.
Lastly, the 5-7 Class will be designing inviting nature play elements, like a wooden foot bridge and log pyramid, with input from CU Environmental Design students, along with building a trail, and designing a welcome sign.
In the end, this project is bigger than any one person, and will showcase the power of collaboration, and strength of our community. It’s amazing to watch the level of student engagement rise, as they begin to understand that this park is not for them, but for everyone else to enjoy, hopefully for many years to come.
All the classes have been very busy with this project. The K-1 class is building bird feeders, the 2nd-4th grade class has made bird nesting box models, met with a birder and gone birding, and the 5th-7th grade class has built models of their play stations. The children are now planning an all school critique session on their work.
The bird nesting boxes are up and we have Starling Eggs in our Northern Flicker box and Kestrel eggs in our Kestrel box! The bird feeders are attracting birds, some Swenson Hawks have moved in to a neighboring tree, bullsnakes are taking care of the mice, and there is a lovely burrow awaiting a homeowner! OSMP came out to help us lay the trail which was generously discounted by Pioneer Sand & Gravel; Post Net helped pay for our beautiful bird guide created by our 2nd-4th grade class, and Urban Garden Renewal Center.