The New Horizon Peace Garden provides a whole host of benefits to our children through an experiential program that integrates all subject areas. The school’s Learning Naturalist leads the way through classes in the garden and through consultation with faculty on how to make connections between their subjects and the garden space.
The Peace Garden serves as the school’s Outdoor Classroom, a space that inspires children to explore and discover in a natural environment exposing them to the beauties and uses of nature in the real world. They might spend time contemplating while sitting on the tree stumps scattered throughout or searching for the plants identified in the Qur’an or writing in their journals their thoughts and observations in the wildlife habitat that attracts bees, birds, and butterflies. They might examine the Arabic letters in the Salam Path or learn about the moon phases in the mosaics on the pathway.
One teacher prompts his students to create a survival plan using the garden as a backdrop during their sixth grade literature unit on Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. Another teacher brings her students during the Kindergarten science unit to study the growth of plants while yet another teacher begins the year with students planting herbs in the Silk Road Herb Garden to be used in the spring for the culminating Silk Road Food Festival unit in the seventh grade World History unit. Preschoolers enjoy practicing their Qur’anic recitation in the peaceful meeting circle in the garden. Eighth graders take rulers and other measuring tools to study geometry starting with the Friendship Fountain which is in the shape of an 8-pointed star.
Along with the Learning Naturalist as a guide, the teachers’ pedagogy library includes a valuable resource, The Growing Classroom, provided through specialized teacher training offered by LifeLab in our school garden. This book consists of numerous lesson plans showing how to integrate the garden into any subject area.
Here are important educational resources advocating the benefits of an outdoor classroom for children:
We were awarded a $8K Shade Structure Grant in 2020 from the American Academy of Dermatology. The grant funded a permanent shade structure that is built over the amphitheater area in the Peace Garden that will protect students, faculty, and families from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. Dr. Saeed Jaffer from Boston Dermatology in Covina, CA and AAD Member was an instrumental part in securing the grant.
Since its launch in 2000, the AAD’s Shade Structure Grant Program has awarded funding for more than 400 shade structures, which provide shade for more than 3 million individuals each day.