Outdoor Classrooms and Trails

What are outdoor classrooms and nature trails?

Outdoor classrooms provide an area where classes can meet to work on academic lessons. Nature trails provide paths where students can walk through and explore and engage with a natural area. Both are places where the entire school community can explore and engage with nature.

Not all students learn the in the same way; for example, kinesthetic and visual learners can thrive in outdoor classrooms and on nature trails where their senses are highly engaged to support their learning style.

Outdoor classrooms can be...


Getting Started

The recommended steps for creating successful outdoor classrooms and nature trails are similar and require careful, upfront planning since many of the components are fixed and would be difficult to change after installation.



Maintaining outdoor classrooms involves keeping the area clean, comfortable, and safe for the children. Maintenance tasks include:

  • Keeping the paths clean and safe

  • Pruning vegetation

  • Seasonal planting

  • Watering

Students can and should participate in the maintenance but you can also consider parent and volunteer workdays.


Using & teaching

Outdoor classrooms provide not only a change of scenery for core subjects but also an environment well suited for age appropriate lessons in biology, botany, natural science, and self-initiated learning experiences.

Consider incorporating nature play elements into your school’s outdoor spaces: Nature Play at Home, by Allen Cooper and Sarah Konradi is an online document that provides great ideas on nature play designs that are appropriate for schools, public settings, and...