Are you ready to trade in your flip-flops for flats and your sunglasses for reading glasses? We didn’t think so. Just because school is almost back in session doesn’t mean you have to spend the next nine months cooped up inside. We want to encourage you to take learning outside this fall with these simple and creative outdoor learning ideas for a variety of subject areas.
Outdoor Learning for Math
- Write math problems (for example, 2 + 4) on the ground with sidewalk chalk and have your students find pinecones, rocks or leaves to represent the answer.
- Use sidewalk chalk to create a grid where your kids can count and sort objects.
- Challenge your kids to see how many triangles they can make with 9 sticks.
- Have your students measure the circumference of your school or the width of the doors or the length of the parking lot.
Outdoor Learning for Language Arts
- Pick a great novel for each of your reading groups and have your kids head outside and read together out loud under the shade of a tree.
- See how many sounds your kids’ footprints can make over various surfaces and then write onomatopoeia poetry using the sounds.
- Practice hand-writing using water, paintbrushes and rocks. Get active while practicing grammar.Instead of “Duck, Duck, Goose,” play “Noun, Noun, Adjective.”
- Have your students write poetry about something they observe outside.
- Bury magnetic letters in sand or dirt and have your kids dig them out.
- Make story stones to summarize a story graphically that you have read in class.
- Build a “campfire” (don’t use real fire!) and lead a book discussion.
Outdoor Learning for Science
- Start a community garden on your school grounds.
- Go on a scavenger hunt to find certain types of plants, rocks or insects.
- Study an anthill. (Unless, of course, you live in Texas and they’re fire ants.)
- Make a graph of how many types of clouds your kids can spot over a period of time.
- Hike to a nearby pond and turn the wetlands into an outdoor classroom.
- Give your students the job of “Season Detective” and have them scour the schoolyard for all the signs of any given season.
- Compare and contrast the fragrances of various flowers.
Outdoor Learning for Music and Art
- Collect flowers and leaves and do leaf-rubbings with crayons.
- Create a xylophone or other musical instrument with materials you find outside.
- Use clay, grass, leaves and other plants to make funny face sculptures.
- Use items you find outside like plants and flowers to inspire artwork to decorate your classroom.
- Get permission from your principal to paint an outdoor mural in your schoolyard.
- Bring drums or a guitar outside and have a sing-along.
- Challenge your students to make shapes out of sticks, rocks and leaves.
Outdoor Learning for P.E.
- Create an obstacle course on your school grounds using rocks, trees and other natural “obstacles.”
- Go on a hike around campus.As you walk, discuss the things that keep a person healthy.
- Challenge your students to finish certain physical feats in a small amount of time. (For example, “Can you run to the playground and go down the slide in 25 seconds or less?”)
- Do a numbers freeze dance on the playground using sidewalk chalk and music.
Question for you: How do you take learning outside?
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