200 Island Avenue • Ramsey, NJ 07446

In the spring of 1998, with the financial support of the Ramsey Education Foundation, the Tisdale School PTO, an outside grant, and the physical labor of parents, teachers, local contractors, and community volunteers, an outdoor classroom was created for the students of Tisdale School. A former parking lot was graded, a pond, complete with waterfall and simulated wetland, was dug and filled, and pavers were installed to create a walkway. Indigenous fauna, bulbs, and flowering trees were planted and bird feeders and nesting boxes were installed. Tisdale staff and students participated in the planning process from start to finish.

"It is not experience which we experience, but nature." J. Dewey, 1916

The Tisdale Schoolyard Habitat has, as its primary goal, the educational renewal in connecting primary school age children with their natural environment. It is our philosophy that every child is born a scientist; having a natural, non-stop curiosity that prompts them to observe, explore, compare, and integrate their internal perceptions with the sensory input of the world around them.

It is our intent to foster that natural curiosity by guiding all PreK-3 students through a broad range of inquiry-based activities that will lay a strong experimental, conceptual, and attitudinal foundation for their future learning.

In order to impact our students’ discovery of the interrelationships of the natural world, environmental science concepts and activities have been developed that meet the National Science Standards as applied through a specific grade level focus.

These grade level focuses include:
          Preschool-Butterfly release program

Kindergarten-The Senses

1st Grade- Weather

2nd Grade- Animals and Plants

3rd Grade- Wetlands

With the goal of stimulating each student’s imagination and sense of wonder, the Tisdale Schoolyard Habitat intends to "make nature study a study of nature" (Dewey, 1916) through a student-teacher partnership and action-based inquiry.

Today students can be observed feeding the fish, filling bird feeders, observing a duck building a nest, planting bulbs, sketching plants, or listening to a book being read by their teacher. Grade level teachers designed science lessons that utilized the courtyard to develop specific science skills. Tisdale scientists now have the opportunity to observe, explore, and interact with the natural world around them, right in their own schoolyard.