Spring is right around the corner. The mild temperatures, budding trees, and return of birds and other animals make it the perfect time of year to get outside, enjoy the fresh air and learn about nature.
Outdoor learning comes with many benefits. It can enhance creativity, problem-solving skills and cognitive abilities. It also reduces stress and anxiety, leading to improved focus. In a world where students are frequently in front of a screen—the average teen spends 9 hours and the average 8- to 12-year-old spends 6 hours a day in front of a screen—it can help promote social interaction, too. Keep reading for ways to get students out of the classroom and into the great outdoors.
Nature lesson plan ideas
- Take a nature walk: Encourage students to use their senses to see, hear, smell and feel the outdoors. Provide everyone with a nature journal to record their observations. Remind students to look up, down and all around. Have everyone close their eyes and listen to the sounds around them. Have students record what they smell and what they feel, such as wind, rain and humidity.
- Feed the birds: Observing wildlife firsthand will surely instill a love of nature. Help students attract birds by making food or creating feeders that can be taken home or hung outside the classroom window. Young students will enjoy making a pinecone feeder while older students can handle a homemade suet or a feeder made from a two-liter bottle. Or, for an even easier option, have students decorate a bottle and attach it to a Soda Bottle Bird Feeder imprinted with your school’s logo.
- Plant a garden: A school garden gets students outdoors and teaches them about teamwork, nutrition and healthy eating. Get the entire school on board and designate roles for each grade or classroom. Younger grades can plant and water, older grades can weed and till. Garden tools are sure to be a hit. Have students vote on what to plant and hand out fun gifts like gardening hats or sunglasses. As a class, make healthy snacks and meals from your harvest.
- Hunt for bugs: You can attract bugs by spreading something sweet, like honey or syrup, on tree bark or rocks. Or have students dig in the soil to find bugs, grubs and spiders. Give each student a bug catching kit. A clear jar, some netting and a rubber band makes a great bug container. Give them a bookmark/magnifier and a jotter with pen in a drawstring bag to aid them in their search.
Whether you’re hunting for bugs, birdwatching, gardening or simply taking a walk, everyone will appreciate the opportunity to get outdoors with these fun nature lesson plans and educational promotional items.