Outdoors is the new indoors

By Mary Dennehy

OUTDOORS is the new indoors at St Dominic’s in Tallaght, where learning alfresco is set to become an important aspect of life at the local school.

St Dominic’s National School in Mountain Park has created an outdoor classroom, which each class will visit and learn in twice a week.

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Pupils and staff enjoying the new outdoor classroom at St Dominic’s this week

A growing school, St Dominic’s has 380 pupils and 31 teachers, who will all benefit from the new dedicated, outdoor learning space.

A 160sqm space on the school grounds was cleared for the new classroom, and four large, colourful picnic tables and a blackboard introduced for class learning.

The space also has a learning through play area, which includes an outdoor kitchen and water play station, both made by teacher Graham Ward.

A number of little seats were also made out of the stumps of two trees, that had to be cut down last year due to their close proximity to the school.

The Echo visited St Dominic’s on Monday morning when the outdoor classroom opened to pupils for the first time.

“This week is all about the excitement of it, pupils are investigating their new classroom,” Mr Vaughan said.

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Hanar, Medinah, Alycia and Jack working on the blackboard

“Due to Covid-19 we wanted to use as much of our outdoors space as we could…so we decided to change the use of some of this space into an outdoor classroom.”

Like in all schools, the blackboard is becoming a thing of the past in St Dominic’s as interactive whiteboards and e-learning support a new way of learning.

However, two of the school’s traditional blackboards have found a new home in the outdoor classroom – as pupils are introduced to a different way of learning.

Pupils also learned what a glantóir is, a classroom staple for anyone who went to school before the arrival of whiteboards.

“The outdoor classroom is not just about Covid, it’s a good idea and we wanted to try and bring learning outside and away from the traditional classroom environment,” Mr Vaughan said.

“In the classroom pupils are relying on iPads, interactive boards.

“Going out into nature provides different stimulants and new opportunities for teaching and learning.

“As a school we always encouraged classes to go outside for their lunch or for reading and now everyone will get more outdoor time.”

Mr Vaughan thanked staff for making the outdoor classroom a reality, including teacher Amy Ormsby, who led the project, and caretakers Josh and Sebastian.

The creation of the outdoor classroom was sponsored by Carambola Kidz, a company that provides lunches to schools, including St Dominic’s.            

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