Learn more about the “Big Dig” and our new garden on the Crowley ISD YouTube Channel. REAL-World Learning Experiences Students are digging the new outdoor learning space at Oakmont Elementary Written by Megan Middleton Learning is spilling into the great outdoors at Oakmont Elementary School, thanks to the construction of a more than 20,000-square foot outdoor classroom from REAL School Gardens. Oakmont is the first elementary in Crowley ISD to partner with REAL School Gardens for an outdoor learning space. Oakmont’s outdoor installation includes an orchard with six different fruit trees, a pollinator garden to attract butterflies and other insects, an herb garden, raised garden beds with peppers, onions and gourds as well as two outdoor classrooms with white boards and special seating. The area also features a tranquility corner with buddy benches for students who need quiet time, an interactive sundial, and a wildflower garden will be planted in the fall. Mercedes-Benz Financial Services and Sprouts, two of REAL School Gardens’ major corporate sponsors, brought more than 100 volunteers to help construct the garden during the “Big Dig” day in April. “We call this the ‘Big Dig’ day because it’s all about celebrating and bringing the community together with the school to install their classroom,” said Mary Freeman, executive director for the Texas region for REAL School Gardens, at the Big Dig event. “Your students will be able to come out and really learn hands- on, real-world complex science and math skills in this wonderful outdoor space.” In the last few weeks of school, teachers took advantage of the new learning area. 8 CROWLEY ISD CONNECTIONS | Summer 2018 “Teachers worked with students on lessons that included insect life cycles, plant growth cycles, measuring growth over time, using iPad technology to photograph and write about beautiful aspects in the garden, understanding garden needs and how to keep our garden watered and healthy,” said Andrea Ayuso, a bilingual pre-kindergarten teacher at Oakmont and the garden coordinator. Her bilingual pre-kindergarten students helped her plant peppers and gourds that she hopes will be ready to harvest at the end of summer. Opportunities like the REAL School Garden at Oakmont Elementary School are not made possible without the help of community partners like Mercedes-Benz Financial Services.