Education in the Outdoors

"Outdoor school is a great, fun place for kids to learn about nature and animals."
Larissa, St. Luke's School

The San Joaquin Outdoor School is academically oriented and increases the children's understanding of nature, culture, people, ideas and feelings about the environment.  Our daily lesson plans function as an important contribution to a child's overall educational experience, reinforcing concepts taught in the classroom with hands on exploration.

Lesson Plans & Themes

In the creation of daily and weekly lesson plans, our staff aim to fulfill 5th and 6th grade science standards emphasizing the physical, life and earth sciences.  Common themes include plant and animal adaptations, the physical structures organisms have for collecting and utilizing energy, interdependence, the complex webs that relate and connect all living organisms, geological processes of rock formation and erosion, weather patterns and astronomy, as well as the distribution, usefulness and time-sensitivity of the Earth's natural resources.  

Teaching Methods

We strive to teach these topics using a variety of methods to incorporate and accommodate students' learning styles, exercise and fun!  We read stories, play active running-based games, complete solo card hikes, sing songs, share personal experiences and complete written and illustrated journal activities to check for student understanding of concepts taught each day.  Themes of nature  appreciation, exploration and conservation are regularly taught and reviewed at our evening campfires, hosted by a campfire "character", created and played by one of our naturalists in disguise, often portray someone new to  the forest, apprehensive about getting dirty, afraid of critters, or determined to clear the forest for a new development.  Kids can often easily identify with these characters, grow with them during the week and eventually teach them about the forest with their short skit or song performances on Thursday night.

Teaching Life Skills

Through the student-directed and led performances, participation in trail activities, family-style meals and group living, we also aim to teach and reinforce the essential life skills of leadership, responsibility and cooperation.  Together with our high school cabin leaders, all SJOE staff members endeavor to set the best example possible!  

Our Staff

Each member of our administration and teaching team holds an advanced education degree from an accredited college or university, with majors ranging from Biology, Geology, Anthropology, and Environmental Studies to Education, English, and Classics.  We are constantly working to better our teaching methods, improve our lessons and make each week with students unique, special and fun.  More information on our staff can be found on the " About Us " page.