Outdoor Classroom and Education
HFCA is committed to developing the whole child and expanding learning outside the classroom--literally and figuratively. In addition to our nationally recognized outdoor classroom, students in fifth through seventh grades have the opportunity to participate in overnight outdoor education experiences.
There are so many benefits of being unplugged and experiencing the wonder of God’s creation. A significant component of these overnight trips is a focus on team building. Each trip creates a supportive environment where students can bond with both teachers and other students.
- Fifth and sixth grade students annually visit the NIU Lorado Taft Field Campus where they experience multidisciplinary activities by interacting with the natural world. During this 3-day, 2-night trip, students participate in supplementary activities that support our HFCA science curriculum. Included in these activities are orienteering and usage of GPS technology, a simulation of the food energy cycle, an exploration of the rock and minerals, and wilderness survival.
- Seventh grade students visit Timber-lee Christian Camp in East Troy, Wisconsin, where they experience many challenging activities that test their knowledge and understanding of the earth, life and physical sciences while also strengthening team building skills. During their 3-day, 2-night stay, students participate in zip-lining while also analyzing speed and velocity as affected by weight, attend classes on energy through a hands-on Energy Workshop, and explore the unique characteristics of various reptiles and mammals during Animal Encounters. Students also explore math and physics concepts by engaging in archery, a high ropes course, and rock climbing.
Holy Family Catholic Academy is the first Preschool-Grade 8 school in the entire Chicago area to be certified as an outdoor classroom by Nature Explore, a collaborative project of the Arbor Day Foundation and Dimensions Educational Research Foundation. The HFCA Outdoor Classroom consists of nine distinct areas that complement HFCA's innovative curriculum and expose students to a broad range of disciplines that go beyond textbooks and beyond the classroom.
Our outdoor classroom is truly a unique place to play and learn by:
- expanding learning outside the classroom and is consistent with HFCA's data-driven approach to our curriculum. Studies support that exposing students to nature:
- helps improve students' concentration,
- boosts creativity and collaboration,
- nurtures the mind, body and soul,
- teaches students the importance of caring for God's creation, a major tenet of Catholic Social Teachings.
- aligning with the International Baccalaureate mission and our goals of:
- developing students’ natural curiosity,
- promoting an independent spirit to explore new roles and ideas,
- emphasizing the importance of intellectual, physical, and emotional balance needed to achieve personal well-being.
States Susie Wirth, Nature Explore Outreach Director,
"Holy Family Catholic Academy has shown tremendous leadership in growing the next generation of environmental stewards. Their commitment to providing research-based and nature-rich learning offers a wonderful example to educators throughout the country."
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