CARTHAGE, Mo. — A group of Carthage students hasn’t minded the heat this week, taking their lesson plans outside this summer session.

“We got to have milk cartons and we planted them,” said Alianys Rodriguez, Student.

She’s talking about one of the many projects she and her classmates at Columbian Elementary School are getting to experience using a new outdoor classroom.

“What I planted was like corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, and watermelon,” said Rodriguez.

“One class period, they came out and they got to plant fruits and vegetables, in a little milk carton tray that we made, and so they’re going to get to take those home and transplant them into their garden and hopefully grow some watermelon, some corn, they got to pick their favorite thing,” said Robyn McLemore, Columbian Elementary School Teacher.

“The corn actually looked like corn, but one of them actually looked like a pumpkin seed. It was like a pumpkin seed but a mini version,” said Rodriguez.

Ms. McLemore loves to take her classes outside to learn, and a new structure built by older Carthage students has helped pave the way for new learning opportunities.

“Our high school carpentry class actually built the shelter that I’m standing in right now last school year,” said McLemore.

It’s opened up a wide variety of learning opportunities.

“They can plant and grow things, they can observe bugs, and life-cycles of bugs, and butterflies. We’re planning to plant butterfly bushes and things like that that will attract more birds and butterflies right now,” said McLemore.

Many students are second language learners, but there are many words English-speaking students haven’t learned yet either, so this will also help all students with new vocabulary as they work through their projects.

“We decided this year, during summer school, to design and build two flower beds that would go around the trees that are at the opening of our classroom,” said McLemore.

But the kids are really just in it for all the fun.

“My favorite part of planting plants is dirt,” said Izaak Shipman, Student.

“Usually I never am allowed to dig in the dirt because my mom says it’s dirty and I might get all my clothes dirty,” said Rodriguez.

Plus another very important lesson…

“Working with other people,” said Shipman.

“I think it’s amazing. This is the way I teach in my classroom, but I’ve been very limited inside. So, this just allows me to expand what I love to do in the classroom,” said McLemore.