Outdoor Education

At RISD we agree with the statement “nature makes kids healthier, happier, and smarter”. Across our district our students have opportunities to learn outside. We have established outdoor classrooms at all our schools and our teachers are willing to take their teaching and learning out of the structure of the classroom. 

Why do we feel that teaching outside is so important? 

  • Nature play has been shown to influence children’s cognitive development by promoting attention skills and short-term memory.
  • Learning outdoors has been shown to provide academic benefits both during and after lessons. Students participating in a nature-based learning program consistently outperformed the control group in knowledge of science and overall academic performance. 
  • Play and learning activities in nature and naturalized settings have been shown to provide opportunities for improved social relations among children, between students and teachers, and across school communities as a whole. 
  • Children and adolescents with proximity to green space had fewer emotional and mental health problems, fewer aggressive behaviors, and higher emotional resilience. 


Outdoor Education takes many forms in our district: 

  • We are supporting teacher learning through on-going support and professional development so educators are able to employ the best educational practices. 
  • At WES each grade has created a forest classroom space. 
  • Our early childhood classrooms also have established outdoor learning spaces. 
  • The 5th grade team visits Hulbert Outdoor Center every other week 
  • Middle School students are designing and planting gardens 
  • High school students are exploring the Cross Rivendell Trails system and learning about the forest in a plot study.  

Every year more activities are added as we strive to connect our students to the community around them.