Deschutes Children’s Forest, in partnership with Bend Park and Recreation District, has started a new relationship with Bear Creek Elementary School! Bear Creek Elementary and adjacent Ponderosa Park, are being designated as Deschutes Children’s Forest second NatureHood. Our NatureHoods initiative connects schools to local parks and greenspaces with the intention of creating outdoor classroom spaces, both for students and families in the community.
Bear Creek Elementary has identified their first NatureHood project, which is to help develop bilingual interpretive signs for Ponderosa Park. This process was kicked off on November 6th, when five 2nd grade classes, including two dual-immersion classes, ventured out to the park for a morning of educational activities focused on the plants in the park. Students learned to identify native and non-native plants, and became an “expert” on one plant in particular. They learned how to tune into their senses to learn more about nature. They incorporated what they are learning in math class by measuring cones and leaves in nature and did leaf and bark rubbings as an art activity.
The activities were led by Bear Creek teachers and staff from Deschutes National Forest, The Environmental Center, Bend Park and Recreation District, and Deschutes Children’s Forest. This is wonderful example of what Deschutes Children’s Forest is trying to do in Central Oregon – bringing multiple partners together to create meaningful learning opportunities in nature, which will eventually benefit the community. As follow-up to the field trip, Bend Park and Recreation District staff will be working with the 2nd graders to brainstorm ideas for interpretive signs and guide them through creating artwork and writing for the signs.
In addition to the 2nd grade project, all teachers at Bear Creek will participate in a teacher training session with DCF’s education partners. The trainings are focused on showing teachers ways to teach science inquiry in their school yard and Ponderosa Park. These trainings will hopefully inspire new projects for other grade levels to participate in.
Stay tuned to hear more about this exciting project!