OWIS Nanyang Outdoor Learning Part 1

Michelle Dickinson
Updated on
August 19, 2020

At OWIS Nanyang, we are proud of the fact that we offer 32,000 square meters of learning space — which includes several outdoor nature classrooms. These innovative classrooms allow students to spend time learning in a natural environment, as they enjoy the benefits of fresh air and activity. These outdoor nature classrooms have been designed specifically to inspire curiosity by giving students the space they need to roam, explore and make their own discoveries. From our berms and sandpit, to our nature garden, we offer students unique and interesting spaces to grow. Our outdoor classrooms allow our learners to foster a love of the environment while making connections between their own lives and the natural world that surrounds them.

Miniature Forest

The miniature forest at OWIS Nanyang is a beautiful display of native Rainforest plants. This “Living Library” is full of knowledge at the cost of a look. When primary students take time to experience the miniature forest and all that it offers, they begin to recognise the value of the natural world in their lives. This recognition turns to appreciation, which in turn forges a bond and a sense of stewardship that underscores the need to protect the environment from harm and preserve it for future generations.

It helps our students understand how vast the natural world is while being able to experience their own personal slice of it here at OWIS. They will see the miniature forest change through the year. They will watch it breathe with the seasons and watch it grow, just like they do. The flora and fauna will change as the years go by and they will learn to appreciate how change is all around us. It is a calming, serene area where they can fully immerse themselves in the natural world.   

There is a footpath that winds its way through the Miniature Forest, guiding the students in their exploration. As they wind their way among the native plants, curiosity is piqued and a keen interest develops. We encourage our students to ask questions and to research information about the plants and ecosystems that our forest holds. We teach them to monitor changes to the forest. We give them the skills and knowledge so that when they return home, they are more aware of the natural world around them. Our Miniature Forest is truly a remarkable experience for students in our primary block.

Hands-On Farm

Is there much in the world that is quite as satisfying as growing one’s own food? Watching nature at her very best, as she takes the smallest of seeds and yields a healthy harvest for the gardener, makes OWIS Nanyang’s Hands-on Farm yet another exciting aspect of our Early Childhood Nature Classroom.

Our farm allows students to not only play in the dirt but observe the evolution of plant life from seed to harvest. Our verdant and lush green gardens deepen the understanding of science as well as food and nutrition. This is an area that can interlink with our studies in the classroom. We can combine learning experiences, both academically and practically. Our students are able to take proud ownership and appreciate the fruits of their labour. They gain a stronger understanding of where food comes from, the challenges that can present when growing and harvesting, as well as how diverse the world of farming can be. A mighty lesson indeed.

Berms and Sandpit

Nature is about so much more than simply observation. Nature concerns our very lives at its core. It is what balances our world and sustains our environment. It also provides plenty of opportunities to play and have fun. Our Berms and Sandpit provide areas to climb, slide, tumble and delight. Through play, our children develop skills, dexterity, athletic movement, and so much more. They problem-solve and question the environment around them. They learn that the world is their playground.  Your child’s sensory nerves will be pampered through the different textures, colours, and shapes of the green grass, sand and hills. They can sit peacefully in the grass, or run until their legs need rest. A world of new ideas and experiences can be found in the Berms and Sandpit.

Sensory Garden

A natural stone trail meanders through and between fragrant flower plantings. Bright coloured flowers of many different varieties are bursting forth, inviting creatures such as butterflies, hummingbirds and the like to stop and investigate. Our Early Childhood students enjoy the Sensory Garden on campus nearly as much as the butterflies and hummingbirds. Children experience the Sensory Garden with nearly all of their senses, the vibrant colours, sounds of nature, and delicate feel and fragrance of the flowers and related elements of the Garden. Nature surrounds them, in its ever-changing form, and they learn to appreciate changes to their environment, such as a flower bursting from its bud or a butterfly landing close by.

Tree Observatory Deck

Trees support many different living things, including human beings. Our source of clean air and eye-pleasing grandeur, trees offer a living history and teach us sage lessons. At OWIS, we encourage Secondary students to stimulate their natural curiosity by providing the opportunity for a close-up observation of our feature tree.

With a multi-tiered deck surrounding our feature tree, students are able to enjoy the peaceful shade and serene calm that the tree provides, interest themselves in many of the supported life forms (insects, and the like) and simply take in the beauty of this lovely arcade. The tree observatory deck is partially circled by shrubbery, which mirrors the beauty and wonder of the feature tree as it significantly enhances the natural setting.

The future of our planet and our species are intrinsically tied together. At OWIS, our holistic approach helps guide our students to success in life and an appreciation for the wonders held in the natural world. It is our belief that our students will build on this appreciation to foster their curiosity, become lifelong learners, and good stewards of the environment. As the population becomes more environmentally aware, our students will be at the forefront of this rapidly changing, more eco-conscious world. The outdoor space that we are lucky to be surrounded by may elicit a great passion for working in research to protect the environment, to become a designer of more eco forms of transport, or move into the world of sustainable farming. The world of opportunity is endless for our students, and at OWIS, we support their dreams throughout their education.

Please Contact Us today for more information, or to Book a Campus Tour. 

About Author

Michelle Dickinson

Head of School

Michelle has a BA (Hons) in History and South Asian Studies from North London University and PGCE from Middlesex University. She began teaching across all three primary key stages. Michelle began her school leadership career in 2002, when she became the Deputy Head Teacher of a large primary school in North London and spent four wonderful years there before relocating to India in 2005.

Her first international position was the Head of Primary of a local/international school in Bangalore in Southern India, where she introduced the Cambridge International Primary Programme and Checkpoint. Michelle then spent 6 years in China and 3 years in Ethiopia developing curriculum and assessment practices.

Michelle believes that children learn best when they are having fun and are engaged in practical, real life activities. While she recognises that outstanding academic achievement is the ultimate goal, she feels it is just as important to build self-esteem, instill character and encourage a global outlook in every child. Michelle believes that learning transcends the classroom environment and is passionate about educational visits and extra-curricular experiences.

Michelle is married with four children - Ana, Hindya, Bille and Markos. The Dickinson family have a sense of adventure and love of life. They particularly enjoy the outdoors, family holidays, making friends, good weather, camping and exploring and are delighted to be at OWIS.

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