The great outdoors makes a beautiful classroom. It gives students a new perspective, gets them out in the fresh air and makes hands-on, interactive lessons easy. As teachers already know, students need to be engaged with learning to absorb lessons in a meaningful way. Many students say doing outdoor classroom activities improved their well-being and memory. And teachers say the approach can help engage all types of learners. If outdoor learning is something you’d like to incorporate, here are some ideas to help get you started.
Take math to the sidewalk
Math is a challenge for many students. Take an unconventional path by ditching the white board and hitting the sidewalks. Sidewalk math helps pique students’ curiosity. For older kids, teachers can use chalk to create algebra and geometry problems. Teachers of younger students can turn hopscotch into a game. Put numbers in the hopscotch grid, give students simple math problems and ask them to hop to the correct answer.
Get involved in nature
Science is a natural fit for outdoor classroom. Leaf samples help students identify tree species, rock comparisons help illustrate geological history and formations, and observing caterpillars can teach about transformation. Depending on your geographic location, lessons can focus on:
- Native plants and grasses—learn names, compare to spot differences and discuss what purposes they serve
- Wildlife—learn which animals are native to the area and how they interact with the ecosystem
- Water—learn what’s in the local supply by doing sample testing
Find art inspiration
For your next art lesson, let students take inspiration from the outdoors. Challenge younger children to learn the alphabet and simple words by looking for natural letter formations—like a stick shaped like a C or a rock that looks like an O—and then copy the letters on paper. Under their teacher’s guidance, older kids can study color contrasts and sketch a landscape with colored pencils and a spiral notebook.
Teach farm-to-table food production
Helping students understand where food comes from expands their understanding of the food production system and how it has evolved. Field trips are a fantastic way to engage all grade levels in a farm-to-table lesson. Many farms will give students an interactive tour. Kids can identify animals, watch how farm equipment works, and see what vegetables, grains and fruits look like before they arrive in grocery stores.
If you can’t take students to the farm, bring the farm to school by starting a garden. Whether you use indoor planters or a small plot outdoors, have students plant tomato seeds or herb seeds. Make them responsible for weeding, watering and caring for the plants. Have each student track the plant’s growth in a notebook. After the plant has matured, have the students give a presentation on their plant—including how they prepared food with it at home.
Have fun learning in the outdoors
Outdoor classroom activity ideas can be fun and easy. No matter what subject you teach, there’s a way to enhance it outdoors. Add in outdoor giveaways, and your students will enjoy school even more.