School gives credit for time spent outdoors

COVID-19 has certainly impacted our daily lives. Many of us keep finding ourselves playing both teacher and parent due to COVID-19 school closures. 

Uncertainty continues about how school will “look” in the months and years to come. 

This whole experience has only reinforced this belief for me: whether or not school is in session, adults should take every opportunity provided to shape the lives of our youth for the better. 

For me, the “better” part of that statement includes a lot of life skills that help a person appreciate our natural surroundings. 

I never expected that my daughter’s last quarter of her freshman year of high school would be spent away from a school building. 

Yet, we were able to figure out some creative ways to expand her education on a level that she may not have experienced if she had been in a typical school setting. 

We were blessed that Karlene’s art teacher gave students a lot of time and freedom for their final art project. After brainstorming, Karlene pitched her idea and it was instantly approved. 

She wanted to spend time with her Grandpa in his wood shop building two bluebird nesting boxes, then decorate and seal them. 

She’s always wanted some for our backyard and this was the perfect opportunity to do so!

My father taught Karlene how to measure, use power tools, and plot out the project. Seeing her use drills and saws for the first time was pretty exciting. 

However, she did not enjoy the air compressor for the nail gun. Other than that, she was very involved in the shop.


Once they were built, she was able to decorate them as she planned. They are now sealed and ready to be hung for the Spring 2021 bluebird season in Missouri. 

Her art teacher had us send in photo updates of the project. She said several times how happy she was that Karlene was able to use this time to learn from her grandfather. 

The time she spent with him creating original artwork that we can actually use in our backyard was priceless. 

Another class that went well was PE. Her coach had them log any physical activity on a spreadsheet. 

When she realized he would count removing invasive bush honeysuckle for credit, Karlene was highly motivated to start working on a wooded area of our backyard. 

This was a win-win situation on many levels. She got a great workout while removing an invasive species from our property. She also learned how to use a handsaw for the first time. 

I guided her at first, but she figured it out fast so she could work alone. One late afternoon she literally worked for two straight hours. To say I was impressed would be an understatement. 

Her PE coach also counted walks and hikes in the woods, which gave us yet another excuse to hit the trails. 

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