Director of Student Programs
Experiential Education in Children's School
The Colorado Springs School embraces the concept of learning by doing, both within and beyond the classroom. Our Children’s School students also travel throughout Colorado on curriculum-based trips designed to teach academic principles and life lessons through firsthand experience. Faculty members leading the trips are First Aid/CPR certified and have completed a two-day Wildnerness First Aid training by the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS).
In the fall, students in Kindergarten through Grade Two participate in school activities beyond the normal school day. Kindergartners and 1st Grade students stay at school to participate in community-building activities, and then go home with their parents at 6:00 p.m. Students in 2nd Grade spend the night in the classroom with their teachers. Third Grade students practice pitching tents and stay the night on campus. Fourth and 5th Grade students spend the night away from CSS and tent camp at a regional campground. All students will develop team-building and personal growth skills.
In the Spring, the Children’s School classes study the early cultures of Colorado. Their culminating classroom studies are highlighted with Colorado Expeditions. Kindergarteners spend the night in the classroom while 1st Grade students spend one night in a lodge and 2nd Grade students spend two nights in cabins. Parent Education Leaders volunteer and are trained to assist with preparation, transportation, food, and spend the night with the students.
Students in 3rd Grade tent camp for two nights and participate in day activities to Old Bent’s Fort and museums in the area where they can learn more about life along the Santa Fe Trail during the early days of Colorado. Fourth Grade students tent camp in Alamosa for three nights where they visit Fort Garland and the town of San Luis as they study Colorado’s early settlers. Fifth Grade camps for four nights in Mesa Verde to learn about the Ancient Puebloan culture.
Each Children’s School class presents a Dessert Theatre performance in which they combine performing arts with one of their Themes of Study. Performing on stage gives children opportunities to share what they’ve learned and to develop confidence and poise. Presenting their theme also helps students retain the knowledge they gained during their classroom studies.
Learning through our rigorous curriculum is deepened through experiential teaching techniques that occur in-class or on campus. Our teachers work hard to bring hands-on experiences into day-to-day learning. The Themes of Study method employed by the Children’s School allows many opportunities to incorporate active learning into the curriculum. Examples may include having students team up to build components of a space station while studying space, imagining the needs of human scientists living on board; creating quilt blocks from paper as they study math and geometric shapes; and re-enacting the early 20th-century immigration of Europeans and their experiences through Ellis Island.
The Children’s School also engages in Project-Based Learning (PBL), not only in the classroom but across grades. PBL begins with an essential question that seeks to inspire students to conduct research and often builds on curriculum content. PBL allows students to define their learning experience through their interests. It culminates in a project or product that is shared with others. Examples include studying a mammal of choice and creating the habitat in which it would survive, creating a model of an amusement park utilizing prior knowledge of engineering skills.