Video+Story: Students at Tippin Elementary Take to the Outdoors for Learning

For many EPISD students, learning can happen outside of the classroom. Oh, and things can get a little dirty, too.

That’s the case at Tippin Elementary School, where students on Wednesday got a first glimpse into a brand new outdoor learning environment that features amphitheater-style seating, a butterfly garden, benches and lots of sand in a sandbox.

“I always thought it would be a good area or space for us to utilize as a garden or an interactive learning space where the students can go outside and enjoy some reading time or do a project,” Principal Gina Rodriguez-Nuñez said. “Taking the learning process outdoors is going to be a really great experience. I think it’s really cool to have something that allows students to learn in a different way.”

She got the idea for the space when she first became principal a couple years ago. She shared her vision with parents, who have been instrumental into making it happen.

Parent volunteer Chivonne Cook loved the concept of creating a space for her second-grade son and his classmates to learn in an outdoor space.

“I think the kids are awakened in a different way when they are outside of their classroom,” she said. “A new experience, new environment provides a different way to think.”

Cook coordinated the volunteer day event. Students came out during their P.E. classes, starting with fourth- and fifth-graders who laid down and aerated cardboard. The lower grades helped scoop soil into each of the garden beds – one for each grade level.

Kindergarten student Austin Tibbets donned red garden gloves, happy to get some time out of the classroom.

“I liked shoveling the dirt. There’s going to be plants, flowers and food,” he said. “It’s fun to come outside because it’s refreshing.”

Fellow classmate Claire Williamson is excited to see what kind of plants will go in the garden.

“I liked helping,” she said. “It’s going to be fun because of the sand.”

 Story by Alicia Chumley | Photos by Leonel Monroy -EPISD