Outdoor Classroom Design

By Kris Blamphin, February 27, 2017

Grade Level

  • PreK-1


  • School Design

Subject Area

  • Language Arts

Lesson Time

60 minutes (10 min. outside/50 min. inside)


Invite your students to design an outdoor classroom!

National Standards

Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.K.4 Describe familiar people, places, things, and events and, with prompting and support, provide additional detail. CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.K.5 Add drawings or other visual displays to descriptions as desired to provide additional detail. CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.K.6 Speak audibly and express thoughts, feelings, and ideas clearly.


The student will be able to design an outdoor classroom.


Bulletin board paper for brainstorming Paper Drawing Tools – Markers, Crayons, Pencils Glue Tape Loose parts – Whatever you have available - paper clips, bottle caps, craft sticks, toothpicks, coffee filters, clay, etc.


Design To create the plans, drawings, etc., that show how (something) will be made. Or To plan and make (something) for a specific use or purpose.


Inside (1 minute) 1. Gather students in a group. 2. Explain that we are going to design something new for our school. Outside (10 minutes) 3. Take the students outside to observe the school yard. 4. Ask the students, “How do you use the school yard?” “What do you like to do in the school yard?” “What are the things that have been designed in this school yard?” 5. Explain that all of the things in the school yard have been designed. Someone had to think about what prekindergarten and kindergarten students like to do when they designed the school yard. 6. Discuss the objects that have been designed - building, play structure, toys, and the landscaping 7. Gather the students as a group and return to the classroom. Large group (10 minutes) 8. On a large sheet of bulletin board paper, ask students the following question, “If you were asked to design a school yard to operate as an outdoor classroom, what would you include in the design?” 9. List ALL of the ideas that the students mention. 10. At the conclusion of the brainstorming session, explain that each student will work with a small group to design their own school yard/outdoor classroom. 11. Show students all of the materials (loose parts) that are available to them for their design. 12. Explain that they may use ANY of the materials to design and build their school yard/outdoor classroom. 13. They can draw, build, or create any type of design that they choose. 14. Explain that students will work in groups of two or three. (You may need to assign students into groups depending on your group dynamic.) 15. Explain that the students will work for 15-20 minutes to design a school yard/outdoor classroom with their group. 16. Explain that at the conclusion of the 15-20 minutes, students will present their design to the class. Small group (15-20 minutes) 17. As students work in groups, move from group to group to check progress, answer questions, and monitor group interactions. Large group (15-20 minutes) 18. Each small group will share their design with the large group. 19. Invite small groups to share, one at a time, in front of the large group. 20. Explain that after each small group shares their design, the rest of the class will have an opportunity to comment on the design. 21. Ask each small group to explain their school yard/outdoor classroom design to the large group. When the small groups finish sharing their designs, ask the other students to share feedback on the designs using the statements “I like…, I wish…, I wonder…” 22. For example, “I like that your design has a hill. I wish that our school yard had a hill. I wonder if we can build a hill in our school yard.” 23. Explain that the students may only say “thank you.” This will keep the process moving so that all groups have an opportunity to share.


1. Has the student worked cooperatively with the group? 2. Has the student designed an outdoor classroom prototype? 3. Has the student effectively communicated the design to the group?

Enrichment Extension Activities

1. This lesson could be used at higher grade levels with little modification. 2. Collaborate with the high school students to develop the outdoor classroom plan – schematic drawings, materials list, budget. 3. Have prekindergarten, kindergarten, and high school students present the completed designs to the principal and the facilities director.

Teacher Reflection

1. The students could revisit their design after the presentation to make changes based on feedback from classmates.

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