Adventures · nature

Take it Outside- Learning in the Great Outdoors

Hi, Happy Readers!

I took my kids to an ecology class at our local State Park recently, and it got me thinking about how lucky the Park Ranger is to have a job teaching kids outside all the time. And she gets paid for it! I think I missed my calling. I could have been a Park Ranger! But on the bright side, as a homeschooling Mom, I am to be able to go outside with my kids, to learn and teach right alongside them, whenever I want to. So, I guess I am pretty lucky too! ūüôā

I LOVE teaching kids about nature, especially while out in nature. I also love teaching other things while outside too – art, science, history, spelling, math – pretty much anything, really. And why not? We all know that being in the sunshine and fresh air is good for our bodies and minds, so why not use it to our advantage? Taking kids outside to learn is also a¬†wonderful way to engage their whole body and mind for a fully integrated learning experience. ¬†And the best part? You don’t even have to be a Park Ranger (or homeschooler) to do it!

How can you get started? It’s easy really.

The #1 Best Way to get kids learning outside is to take them on a Nature Walk or hike.

Tips for taking learning outside.Take them outside to walk in nature somewhere, and just watch the learning happen on is own. It doesn’t even matter where you take them. Every environment sparks questions that lead to learning. ¬†I literally can not think of one time where a nature walk¬†didn’t inspire multiple discussions about everything from habitats and meteorology, physics or geology, history to math and more.

Field trips are another great way to bring “learning-to-life” in the great outdoors. Check your local resources (museums, state parks, etc) for ideas that fit in with your child’s interests or learning goals.Many of them offer weekly or monthly classes for students of all ages and schooling situations. We have not been disappointed yet by going this route. And there is really nothing better than hearing your child say, “Wow! Once you learn all the facts, going to a place like this {historical vilage}¬†really brings history to life!” – Yes, my son really said that! Mommy win!

But, Wait! There’s More! ūüôā

What else can you do to spark learning outside? Plenty! In addition to nature walks and field trips, you can always take homework or reading time outdoors in your own backyard or local park. With a little preparation, you can adapt many homework lessons or skill drills to an outdoor environment as well. All you need are a few items to keep on hand, a couple of ideas from Pinterest, and you can bring any lesson to life outside.

GREAT WAYS TO BRING LEARNING OUTSIDE!

art frolic chalklogo1- SIDEWALK CHALK, BALLOONS & HULA-HOOPS:  These are great tools to get kids outside and move their bodies for gross motor skills practice and integrated mind/body learning. Make larger than life games for  math skills (such as number lines, clocks and measuring), spelling words, cursive practice, science skills and more. The more lessons or homework practice you can take outside, the better! Check out this Pinterest board for more ideas.

2-¬†SWINGING & JUMP ROPING:¬† These whole body, repetitious movements are one of the best ways to practice rote memory skills like basic addition/subtraction facts, times tables, and spelling words. Remember to use this activity only AFTER your child has had a chance to learn them in a hands-on method first.{They must understand what they are doing ¬†or the repetition will be meaningless.} Once they’ve had a chance to learn the information, these repetitive actions help to embed the facts into their brain. Try it. It’s amazingly effective- especially for kids with learning difficulties.

Once they’ve had a chance to learn the information, these repetitive actions help to embed the facts into their brain. Try it. It’s amazingly effective- especially for kids with learning difficulties.

3- BLANKETS, BENCHES & BRANCHES:  Want your child to read more? Send them outside with a blanket and a good book, and you may not see them for an hour!  Of course, other places to sit quietly work too. A bench, a hammock, or a bench-swing are all wonderful options as well. Want bonus points? Let them climb a tree. They will have to work on pre-planning skills to plan their route, build upper arm strength to climb up, and develop core strength to balance while reading once they are up there. This was one of my favorite activities as a kid.

Want bonus points? Let them climb a tree. They will have to work on pre-planning skills to plan their route, build upper arm strength to climb up, and develop core strength to balance while reading once they are up there. This was one of my favorite activities as a kid.

4- SKETCHBOOKS AND ART SUPPLIES: These classic tools are classic for a reason Рthey have stood the test of time and interest levels for just about everyone. Give your kids a sketchbook and some colored pencils or water colors and take them to the park for some drawing time. Ask them to draw what they see through a series of challenges that force them to see the world in new ways.

Don’t limit yourself (or them) to challenges relating only to art – you can use these challenges to introduce (or to dive deeper into) any topic or subject they are studying. ¬†Be ready for lots of questions, though, as these drawing challenges typically make them think harder about what they are studying.¬†{Tip: Have Google or Siri handy to answer their questions!} Need ideas for challenges? Check out this Pinterest board for ideas.

Learning with a microscope outside5-MAGNIFYING GLASS, BINOCULARS, MICROSCOPE, TELESCOPE : There really is no better way to get your child to see the world outside in new ways than to give them a set of new eyes! Seeing the smallest plants and animals under a microscope is almost blind-blowing to a child {and for some adults too!}. Stay up late and watch the stars. Take a hike and watch for birds. Collect pond water and examine what you find. There is no such thing as a bad idea here. Any idea that gets them to take a fresh look at the world will spark questions and learning.

6 – Imagination: Well, is there really any better tool for learning, no matter the location, than one’s imagination? I think not. Imagination is truly the spark of all learning. When you or your child is interested in something, questions start to flow, imagination takes over, and true learning ¬†begins.

By finding ways to take learning outside, you and your child are stretching your imagination, creativity, minds and bodies to create true, integrated learning experiences. And it is these experiences that make lasting impressions for deep learning and amazing memories!

Well, I hope I gave you a few ideas that you can use at home. I could go on and on here, (the list is endless), but I won’t. Instead, I will encourage you take the time to take a lesson or homework assignment outside for a little intergrated learning and whole lot of fun!

So, what are you waiting for?

 

Go! Get outside.

Go live your Life…unScripted!

Take it Outside

-LizaBean Mama

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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