Experiential Learning

5th graders silk screen printing in art barn
3rd graders on a field trip

Students learn by engaging in the world around them, by asking questions, and through exploration and discovery. With encouragement and guidance from teachers, they follow their personal interests and learn by doing.

Connections are made both within grades and beyond, fostering a sense of community. Older students mentor young students throughout their time in the Beginning and Lower School through intentional activities. Family members are invited to attend events, performances, and class trips.

Beginning School: Preschool and Kindergarten

With encouragement and guidance from teachers, preschoolers identify their areas of interest, follow their inquiry, and learn by doing. They explore the wooded areas of campus to answer questions about the natural world. 

In kindergarten, students continue to be supported in their open inquiry and independent thinking, an approach that fosters curiosity, openness to differing perspectives, and the desire to keep learning. Activities include launching boats that they constructed with their 3rd grade “buddies” and the end-of-year celebration, known as the Kindergarten Olympics.

Lower School: 1st-5th Grades

Students deepen their understanding of conservation with a series of curriculum-focused nature walks, personal writing projects, and creation of a conservation park on campus. Studies in math and problem-solving are reinforced with hands-on constructivist projects related to real-world scenarios. As part of their studies, students learn from experts, engage in cross-disciplinary projects and simulations, and take part in off-campus class trips to study specific topics out in the field. Trips have included visits to local museums, downtown Portland, wastewater treatment plants, and the zoo.

They also explore technology through experimentation and creation. In a weekly “Tinkering with Tech” class, students learn how to use coding and technology to collaborate, create, and make their ideas visible. By fifth grade, students conduct first-person interviews, engage in simulations, and create podcasts. A class trip serves as both a social and educational foundation for the year, and their Celebration of Learning night at year’s end is an opportunity to share what they’ve learned.