Information for Parents/Guardians on the Muddy Sneakers Program:
- What is Muddy Sneakers?
- Who teaches the learning expeditions?
- Where do the learning expeditions take place?
- Is Muddy Sneakers a beneficial program?
- How can I get involved as a parent?
- What should I bring on a Muddy Sneakers learning expedition?
Muddy Sneakers is a non-profit organization based in Brevard, NC that partners with public schools to provide an experiential model for teaching 5th grade science.
The program is unique in that it provides students with continuous exposure to an outdoor classroom through participation in 6-10 hands-on learning expeditions spread throughout the school year. Each expedition reflects a key science topic and directly correlates with the 5th grade NC Science Standard Course of Study objectives. For the 2012-13 school year, Muddy Sneakers will present an updated curriculum reflecting the new NC ‘Essential Standards’ for 5th grade science with an eye towards incorporating some of the national ‘Common Core’ math and language arts standards into each expedition. The mission of Muddy Sneakers is to awaken in school children a deeply felt connection with the natural world, one that inspires curiosity, stimulates learning, and brings new life to classroom performance.
Who Teaches The Learning Expeditions?[back to top]
While students’ classroom teachers accompany them into the woods, expeditions are taught by highly qualified, safety-minded Muddy Sneakers field instructors in small group settings of no more than 12 students per instructor. Instructors serve as ‘naturalists’ in the field, each applying their own diverse background and teaching style to the material while sharing a common passion for working with students in the outdoors. All field instructors are Wilderness First Aid and Child and Adult CPR certified.
Where Do The Learning Expeditions Take Place?[back to top]
Students spend the day hiking and studying topics they will be tested on during their Science EOG’s in natural areas near their school. Some of these areas include DuPont State Recreational Forest, Carl Sandburg Home, Gorges State Park, Lake James State Park, and NC National Forests. An effort is made to keep bus drive time and mileage to a minimum, ideally travelling no more than 30 minutes from the school.
Is Muddy Sneakers a Beneficial Program?[back to top]
Since we began programming during the 2008-09 school year, participating schools have seen an average 25% increase in their 5th grade science end-of-grade (EOG) test scores after one year of participation with Muddy Sneakers. This increase is significantly higher than the average among those schools not participating in the Muddy Sneakers program. A number of our schools have seen increasing passing rates into the mid-90th percentile, roughly 20% above the state average.
How Can I Get Involved as a Parent?[back to top]
Muddy Sneakers and your child’s school welcome parent chaperones on learning expeditions. You are encouraged to contact your child’s teacher to find out the schedule of Muddy Sneakers outings and to join your child for a day of learning in the woods. If you have questions specific to Muddy Sneakers, you can email them to email@example.com.
- Become a Muddy Sneakers Community Sponsor and help ensure that the children in your school district continue to connect with science and the natural world through participating in this rewarding program
- Invite Muddy Sneakers to present to a community organization you’re involved in. We appreciate the opportunity to share what the program is doing, and to garner community support in all forms
- Become a friend of Muddy Sneakers on Facebook!
- Check out Muddy Sneakers online at www.muddysneakers.org and tell others to check us out too!
If you’re interested in ways you can get your child and your family outdoors and learning more, the Cradle of Forestry in America has a great “Nature-Oriented Parenting Newsletter.” Click the Cradle link to read published issues and get ideas on how to encourage your child to connect more with his or her natural surroundings.
We hope you’ll join us in the field on a Muddy Sneakers day! Here’s some information that might be helpful to you:
What Should I Bring on a Learning Expedition?[back to top]
Every student, teacher, parent, and chaperone should bring:
All students need to come prepared for the conditions. Wearing appropriate clothes is the most important thing you can do to prepare yourself for a fun day in the woods. Look at the weather report the night before and remember that it’s always better to be too warm than too cold when you’re preparing to be outside for the day! Think about wearing clothes that dry quickly (not cotton) and always plan on wearing/bringing ‘layers’ with you in case you get too hot/cold.
Everyone must bring his or her own lunch on Muddy Sneakers expedition days (including schoolyard expeditions). We ask that you try and limit the amount of packaging since you’ll have to carry out your own garbage with you – remember that we practice ‘Leave No Trace’.
Two regular size bottles of water
We recommend buying 1-2 good water bottles at the beginning of the year and reusing them for each expedition.
A rain poncho or waterproof rain jacket
A warm jacket/sweatshirt
No matter the weather, be prepared for quick changes in temperature and remember that rainfall in the mountains is always a possibility.
Comfortable walking shoes
It is VERY important to wear appropriate shoes for walking all day in the woods. Hiking boots and of course sneakers work great but we ask that no students wear flip-flops or sandals.
A “Field Journal Kit”
This kit should consist of a small notebook and pen or pencil in a zip lock baggie. The Field Kit needs to come into the field each time you go on a Muddy Sneakers learning expedition.
A positive attitude
Please come with a smile and an eagerness to be outdoors all day!
Please do not bring:
Cell phone, iPods, or anything electronic
Dogs or other pets
*Please only bring what’s on the list of things to bring; carrying extra stuff throughout the day will make your pack heavier