Space to Grow is about remarkable schoolyard transformations—and much more.
In addition to the schoolyard renovation, Space to Grow provides a support system tailored to each school’s needs. Every Space to Grow school agrees to participate in activities and workshops provided by partner organizations. Here, you will find an overview of the ongoing professional development and support available to your school, and resources to support your school’s Space to Grow transformation. For an overview of the schoolyard transformations at participating schools, see School Profiles.
Workshops + Professional Development
How and Why to Teach Outdoors is a professional development workshop offered by Openlands to help your entire school staff discover the benefits of teaching outside and how to use the schoolyard as an extension of the classroom. Participants in this high-energy workshop gain classroom management skills and create tools for taking their curriculum outdoors. This workshop is offered once the schoolyard has been transformed.
Fit to Learn
Fit to Learn is a professional development program for teachers offered by Healthy Schools Campaign and is an important component for Space to Grow schools. Fit to Learn equips teachers with a simple, creative approach to education and classroom management that makes wellness a priority and incorporates healthy lessons and physical activity into classroom lessons and the school day. Lessons learned in class can shape how students approach health and wellness; Fit to Learn helps teachers make sure those lessons are healthy ones.
Stormwater Education at School
It’s easy to take notice of the above-ground features of your new schoolyard, but there’s a lot going on below the surface, too. Understanding the stormwater management features within your schoolyard can help provide valuable lessons about Chicago’s water system and help develop a culture of environmental awareness and conservation. Openlands will conduct a professional development workshop at your school that will provide teachers with the tools they need to teach their students about stormwater management and water conservation. This workshop will include a tour of the schoolyard to review its unique stormwater features, sample lesson plans and activities for the teachers to use in the classroom—both indoors and out.
Stormwater Management at Home
Your new Space to Grow schoolyard is not the only place that can help manage stormwater. Space to Grow partners will host a workshop at your school for community members that focuses on how the schoolyard manages stormwater, and provide resources and tools for area residents to help manage stormwater on their own property (e.g., rain barrels, native plants). It’s all part of an integrated solution and making a collective impact to help curb flooding issues in the region.
Creating a Culture of Wellness
Before your schoolyard is installed, a member of the Space to Grow team will meet with the principal and the school’s Wellness Champion to discuss wellness needs and initiatives, and to develop an action plan for helping achieve those. This meeting usually starts with a review of the annual Healthy CPS Survey that schools complete each winter. Based on each school’s wellness needs and initiatives, Space to Grow partners can connect schools with resources and other partners that can provide targeted support and assistance in these areas, such as incorporating physical activity or nutrition education into the school day.
Garden Planning and Management
Your new schoolyard will have many gardens, such as native gardens, rain gardens, butterfly gardens or edible gardens. These spaces are not only beautiful, but also help manage stormwater. It’s important that the school community helps maintain these gardens with regular watering and weeding. Space to Grow partners will host several events and opportunities at the schoolyard for learning how to identify and remove weeds. The entire school community—especially your school’s Garden Team—will be invited to participate and encouraged to help plan the school’s gardens, especially any edible gardens. Openlands and the Space to Grow partners will provide workshops and training to help the Garden Team get started and maintain the gardens.
Share Your Story
We’d love to hear about your school’s experience! Your perspective, your successes and the lessons you learn through the schoolyard transformation process are incredibly valuable to other school communities. Share your story.
The Space to Grow School Manual is designed to assist you and your colleagues throughout your participation in Space to Grow, from the early stages of schoolyard planning and design through the three years of ongoing support.
Watering the gardens in your schoolyard is essential to the long-term health and success of your garden. This document provides specific guidance, including a watering schedule and checklist of needed tools.
Planning + Design Day Schedules
School planning teams are responsible for planning and scheduling different stakeholders’ participation in several key meetings and events. This document offers sample schedules to facilitate efficient scheduling.
GrowWELL provides resources to support the maintenance and academic integration. Additionally, GrowWELL outlines strategies to use your school garden to become LearnWELL and align with the CPS wellness policies. Whether you are a seasoned green thumb or have trouble using a watering can, GrowWELL provides tools for the full spectrum of gardeners.