Nature Explore Teaching Garden & Outdoor Classroom

Ascension Lutheran School Receives National Recognition as a Certified Nature Explore Classroom

TK-8 Campus is Now Nature Explore Certified

April 2019: Ascension Lutheran School’s TK-8 campus has earned national recognition as a Certified Nature Explore Classroom from the Nature Explore program, which is a division of nonprofit Dimensions Educational Research Foundation. This is the second Certified Nature Explore Classroom for Ascension Lutheran School. The Early Childhood Center Nature Explore Classroom received certification in 2010.

Outdoor Classroom

The Teaching Garden and Outdoor Classroom is an integral part of our school for each and every one of the students. The first garden on campus began at our preschool when the teachers were inspired to connect children in nature. As the preschool garden and outdoor classroom grew, the day school was able to add their abundant garden! All of our students spend time in the garden, and the garden curriculum intersects with core classroom subjects. It is also an important part of our faith life since we see our Creator God alive in the garden. The outdoor classroom is a way not only for the children to learn outside but also to spend time with nature and take a chance to just breathe in our busy lives. Our studies focus on science and the social sciences but we also weave in art, math and language arts. We follow our state framework for social studies and the Next Generation Science Standards when designing all lessons for each grade. The children regularly complete naturalist studies so that they can learn about the natural species around them, patterns that occur in nature and the geology of our area.  Each class grows food items and learns how to take care of and sustain a garden and in doing so they come to understand where our food comes from and nutrition practices that give our bodies what they need. We take time to appreciate the beauty around us and practice being still in God’s creation.

Our garden encourages the entrepreneurial spirit as well. Every February, each class in grades TK-6 plants a variety of tomato seeds and tends to them as they grow. In the spring, students sell these tomato plants to school families, church members, and the local community. Our students can tell you the tricks to save and plant seeds, the tomatoes’ part in U.S. history, the science behind the tomato, and how to transplant the tomato plant into another garden so that it can grow healthy and strong. In the spring of 2016, our students made over $4000 for the garden program by selling their tomato plants!