On one particular day this past fall it sure would have been thrilling to soar like a bird and fly over West Side Christian School’s campus. Using this bird eye view we would have peered down on a buzz of different learning activities happening in our varied outdoor classroom spaces.
The nature-preschool students ventured into the garden, discovering bees pollinating the broccoli plant right before their eyes. The second graders were on their way to their vernal swamp “sit spots” to demonstrate their understanding of some important map skills and map vocabulary. Once they arrived, they sat with their stump buddies as they mapped the location of the invasive Buckthorn. Third graders were on the hunt for forest seeds in order to investigate each seed’s adaptation for dispersal.
Our students regularly experience these kinds of connections to their learning through immersive experiences in God’s Creation, which cultivates a love of the Creator through His beautiful creation while also integrating with their classroom learning.
While outdoors recently with her 7th grade class, a student reflected in her journal,”I see the fallen logs on the ground and a meandering trail. Right now I see a different point a view, I see a part of God’s creation that I don’t get to see every day. God made all the green around me to bring life to the world.”
Another 7th grader wrote, “Lord, you are very creative and your creation is wonderful. The colors, the life, the peace here are all magnificent. The vast forest that surrounds me is a work of art.”
“God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” Genesis 1:31
It’s such a blessing that students here can experience learning through their natural environment, whether that be the towering cumulonimbus clouds piled high in the western sky (2nd grade weather) or the golden flash of the Baltimore oriole in the Box Elder tree (4th grade Diversity of Life); whether it be of the shadows on the snow (Nature-based preschool shadows) or the azure glint on the wing of the little butterfly (Little Sprouts school garden helpers). Through these immersive experiences students experience a sense of companionship with life out-of-doors and an abiding love of their Creator God who made all things good.
Caretakers in God’s Creation
It’s exciting to share some of the new developing opportunities our school community has to do just that:
- It is thrilling to announce that West Side Christian now partners with Groundswell. Being a Groundswell school means that we’ve joined with a coalition of community partners to create opportunities for place-based environmental learning for our students. We’ve been awarded a grant through this partnership to implement a student-led project that solves a real world program all while integrating academic content and problem-solving skills. Stay tuned!
- West Side Christian’s ongoing partnership with Blandford Nature Center provides opportunities for students to experience their diverse habitats and utilize their resources to enrich students’ hands-on learning.
- More and more classrooms have begun to add composting to their daily routine and one zealous nature-based preschool student convinced her grandparents to begin composting to help grow their home garden and reduce landfill waste.
- Through the years we’ve been actively integrating Next Generation Science skills through our land management while working to remove invasive species.
- Starting this month, a diverse group of students, staff and community members will be meeting monthly to create a vision and action plan for how this school community could take steps to become better stewards of God's creation.
Elizabeth Bloem, a West Side Christian School parent and Creation Care team member, recently shared, "I have found that deepening and nurturing our nature connection as a family in the past few years has deepened our relationship to God and given us a reverence for His Creation. It has caused a strong desire to honor what He has created by examining how our actions affect the natural world."
Join in the Conversation
It’s exciting how we can be a part of telling God’s Big Story of Scripture integrated through the education that happens at West Side Christian School! Thank you for partnering with us - whether you send your children here, you’re an alumni, a prayer warrior or a financial supporter. Together we are working to grow God’s Kingdom. There’s opportunity for all of us to join in the conversation around God’s redemptive story.
- Follow and share Facebook stories that reflect how God is at work on a daily basis. Let’s tell God’s story through what we say and do.
- Sort your trash at home and school: compost, recycle, Terracycle and waste.
- It is sad to see overconsumption and know that recyclable materials end up in the landfill. How can we grow to make a positive change? What if we could be a part body of believers that desire to bring about creation care which leads towards a flourishing community that glorifies God and serves the common good in the here and now? Let’s start having some conversations! Join the newly formed Creation Caretakers Closed Facebook Group. The purpose of this group is to support, learn, grow with, and inspire each other as we seek out ways glorify God as we tell His story through our caring actions.