Building Better Schools: Maumee Valley Lower School takes on the forest

Published: May. 16, 2023 at 5:23 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) -A local school is expanding its use of nature in its classroom and its earned a major award.

Forest Fridays allows Maumee Valley Country Day School students to spend hours outdoors exploring nature.

Maumee Valley Lower School students are suited and booted as they head outside to the forest.

The Pre-Kindergarten through Third Grade students spends a maximum of three hours once a week learning lessons in nature.

“We come out every Friday and it’s really fun when we get to come out,” Charlie Baker said. Baker is a student at Maumee Valley Lower School

The 75-acre campus is full of plants and wildlife, which makes for a ready-made lab for forest school. This week students learned to look for hawks’ nests and birds.

Baker said the class has taught him all he needs to know about nature.

“I’ve learned about birds, I have learned about insects. I’ve learned about pretty much everything I know about nature,” Baker said.

The course is the reason why the school is receiving the 2023 Eco-Elementary School Award. It was awarded by the Science Alliance For Valuing The Environment (S.A.V.E.). The nonprofit organization at Lourdes University serves the Toledo region with sustainability-focused programs.

Christine Maker, Maumee Valley Lower School teacher, said she is happy to “reestablish” her students’ knowledge of nature.

“I think it’s just about bringing getting kids back outside, helping them to re-establish relationships with nature, because so many kids are indoors nowadays, and they’re rushing into one activity to the next after school. So this is a great way for them to reconnect get time outside, get fresh air, and learn to love the environment that they’re one day gonna have to take care of,” Maker said.

The young students head outdoors to learn no matter the season, rain or shine.

“We get muddy, we have fun and right now, we’re watching birds,” student Anna Dowling said.

“The children love the rain it could be pouring down rain and they are in the trees. They don’t even notice the rain falling on them. They provide another opportunity to collect rainwater to measure the rainwater to use it, rainwater for indoor plants so there’s never a reason that learning can’t be happening,” Maker said.

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