Welcome to Sherwood Forest: Outdoor learning space promotes curiosity through nature

Sherwood Forest students
Sherwood Forest provides a calm space for students to be creative and curious about nature. (Courtesy of Fullerton School District)

An unused piece of land that was part of the Orangethorpe Elementary School campus has been transformed into an outdoor learning space that will offer more opportunities for students to express their creativity. 

The school hosted a celebration on Sept. 27 to unveil the outdoor space called Sherwood Forest to its staff, students and district leaders. 

Sherwood Forest

“We have never had an outdoor learning space,” Principal Deborah Bennett said. “The possibilities are endless for what teachers and students can accomplish in Sherwood Forest. It’s a fantastic opportunity to take learning to a whole new level.”

The learning space is an extension of Orangethorpe’s focus of Project Curiosity: The Art of Science and Nature, which provides opportunities for every student to engage in hands-on and experiential learning. Students are encouraged to be curious in their learning, form new ideas and build cognitive connections. 

“It offers a non-traditional approach to learning outside the four walls of the classroom and allows students to explore nature in a whole new way,” Bennett said. 

The space includes a platform stage that will enable teachers and students opportunities to present to their classes, along with benches for collaboration. 

“I feel this space will alleviate anxiety, behavior concerns and stress for students and staff because they are not confined to a classroom and the uniformity of desks and sitting in chairs,” Bennett said. 

Sherwood Forest is a project of seed money awarded through a Phelps Foundation Grant. The initial funding kickstarted additional funds and time dedicated to the project. 

The Fullerton School District is located in northern Orange County and serves more than 11,600 students from transitional kindergarten through grade eight. The district includes 21 schools, 15 elementary schools, two K-8 grade schools, three middle schools, and a distance learning and home school model.