One adult and two adolescents are breaking up sticks to make a fire in a metal pan that already has a few sticks in it.

Introducing our Outdoor and Place-Based Learning Toolkit

We have a saying around here that “middle school is not a building” and we also believe that classrooms do not have to be rooms. There are so many benefits to being outside for humans’ wellbeing and for students’ learning. We’ve collected our favorite blog posts – find the toolkit’s permanent link here.

Outdoor and place-based learning are tightly connected with so many other things we hold dear. Understanding our place in the wider outdoor world is important for building community together and for students to explore their identity. The outdoors are a great place for engaging in reflection , while thinking deeply about our relationship with the environment and the legacies of a place are powerful ingredients for equity. And so many fabulous project based learning experiences take place in part or fully outside. 

We hope you enjoy digging in here, and, of course, getting out there!


What is it and why do it?

Outdoor and place-based education in the now by Audrey Holman 

  • Includes a 45 minute webinar with transcript, an outdoor place-based education resources page that includes external resources, and four Vermont examples:
    • Aimee Arandia Orensen – Shelburne Farms
    • Cliff DesMairis – Flood Brook Middle School
    • Bonna Wieler – White River Valley Middle School
    • Annie Bellerose – Champlain Valley Union High School

8 ideas for outdoor learning by Katy Farber


Examples of projects with outdoor and/or place-based learning

How to plan a service learning project in 5 stages by Jeanie Phillips

  • Example from Leland and Gray Union Middle and High School that walks through their service learning process. See this short video about the project, too.

This middle school is not a building by Scott Thompson

  • Features the outdoor classroom at White River Valley Middle School

Green Mountain’s Wilderness Semester by Jeanie Phillips

  • Describes the origins of Green Mountain Wilderness High School’s program. Includes a short video

Do you need a radical reset? By Rachel Mark

  • Shares a three day immersive outdoor experience by a team to spur positive culture.

Building a loose parts playground by Emily Hoyler

  • Walks through a Project Based Learning experience from conception to how students shared their insights at an educator conference.

How to make real, sustainable change in the Northeast Kingdom by Audrey Homan

  • Traces how Burke Town School used the UN Sustainable Development Goals to guide a place-based learning project. Includes a video.

Sugaring, STEM, and community connecting by Mark Olofson

  • Recounts a maple sugaring operation by the Edge team at Essex Middle School.

Connecting Vermont students with a dairy farm by Audrey Homan

  • Describes how students from the Cabot School regularly work at Molly Brook Farm as part of their Cabot Leads service learning program. Includes a video.

Examples of other forms of outdoor and place-based learning

How a PTO connected students with community during COVID about Crossett Brook Middle School, by Life LeGeros

Lessons from summer camp about the Kingdom East School District’s summer program, by Life LeGeros

Centering Connection and Wellness: A Lifelong Sports Program about Rutland Middle School, by Rachel Mark

Prioritizing daily movement and experiential learning in Newark about Newark Street School, by Life LeGeros

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