Cabela's donates rain gear to Gilbert Elem. "forest kindergarten - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Cabela's donates rain gear to Gilbert Elem. "forest kindergarten" students

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WALKER COUNTY, GA (WRCB) -

Kindergarten students at Gilbert Elementary in Walker County, Georgia are unlike any other in the nation.  They can often be found in the forest. It's a 312- acre classroom without a ceiling or walls.  The school has recently established a forest kindergarten, the first of its kind in US public schools.

The recently opened Cabela's store in Fort Oglethorpe specializes in outfitting for the outdoors, When they heard about the forest kindergarten, they wanted to be a part of it.  Market manager Sandi McBride said the partnership is a natural fit for the store and the school. Cabela's donated raincoats, pants and jackets to each student in the program.

Gilbert principal Matt Harris is proud of his school's forest kindergarten.  After selling parents on the project, his staff set out to immerse students in learning, relationship building and authentic play, while still meeting kindergarten education requirements.

Whether it's learning about the life cycle of insects, using natural materials to build, or finding a toad in the wild, the emphasis shifts away from toys and games.  The Gilbert teachers find other ways to educate and stimulate young children. He thanked Cabela's for donation, which will allow the students to dress appropriately for their outdoor sessions, which typically last 3 hours each day.

Now armed with their new rain gear, the Gilbert forest kindergarten kids are ready for outdoor learning, even during less than ideal conditions.

Harris says the school's enrollment is 80 percent free and reduced lunch, so programs like the forest kindergarten would not be possible without community support, like the donations provided by Cabela's.

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