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Facts about Schoolyard Habitats®

  • Children spend 20-25 percent of their time in school in the schoolyard - the equivalent of 257 days by the end of sixth grade. (Greening School Grounds: Creating Habitats for Learning, edited by Tim Grant and Gail Littlejohn. 2001)
  • Litter cleanups at your school are one of the simplest ways to keep students involved in the beautification of your school property.
  • Research has shown that the design and management of schoolyard habitats influences children's attitudes and behavior. Using the schoolyard habitat is a step towards encouraging pupils to look closely at their own environment, assessing how it is used and how it could be improved.

Kids on Tireswing
  • Fifth grade students who participated in school gardening activities scored significantly higher on science achievement tests than students who had a curriculum without garden experiences (Klemmer, Waliczek, & Zajicek, 2005).
  • When third to fifth grade students who participated in a one-year gardening program filled out a survey of life skills, they showed a significant increase in self-understanding and the ability to work in groups compared to nonparticipating students (Robinson & Zajicek, 2005).
  • According to observations, interviews and journals, multicultural school gardens programs for recent immigrants provided a space where children could share their cultural heritages, feel a sense of belonging, and form connections to the local environment (Cutter-Mackenzie, 2009).
  • A study by the State Education and Environment Roundtable (SEER) clearly presents the benefits of an environment-based curriculum in any school. The study found that:
  • 100 percent of schools using environment-based learning had students with improved behavior.
  • Not only did attitudes improve, but test scores increased as well.
  • 77 percent of schools with an environment-based curriculum had improved standardized test scores.
  • 73 percent had improved grade point averages.

(Lieberman, Gerald A. and Linda L. Hoody. Closing the Achievement Gap: Using the Environment as an Integrating Context for Learning. State Education and Environment Roundtable. 1998.)


Benefits of Sustainable Schoolyard Habitats

Improved Science Standard Proficiency: A schoolyard habitat serves as a living laboratory where students engage in hands-on inquiries into the natural world.

Improved Geography and Social Studies Standards Proficiency: Geography and social studies involve understanding connections between people, social constructs and the environment, and the schoolyard habitats program can be applied successfully to help teach those connections by assisting students in understanding both space and place.

Improved Math Standard Proficiency: A schoolyard habitat provides students with the opportunity to apply math concepts to the real world; whether estimating numbers of plants in an on-site plant community or looking for geometric shapes in nature, an outdoor area is full of mathematical wonders.

Improved English Standard Proficiency: A schoolyard habitat provides a quiet space for creative writing about nature or a research laboratory where students can develop research, writing and communication skills.

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