Being outside and one with nature is often considered at odds with studying and the classroom scene. However, outdoor learning is a great way of keeping kids engaged with course material and there are creative methods to allow these lessons to be ingrained in their minds. There are plenty of outdoor teaching ideas that cover the full breadth of the curriculum and ensure an unforgettable learning experience. Education outside can use nature to tackle an array of topics, from literacy and numeracy to biology and geography. Learning outside the classroom can be an easier way to get children to engage with the curriculum. Try outdoor education, with a variety of activities, to help your children reenvision how they see homework.
Education Outside: Measuring Trees
This is a fun way of getting children to engage with outdoor learning. Get the kids to estimate the height of the tree by comparing it to the height of something that is known. If you say 6 feet tall, then get them to guess how tall the tree is by comparing it to you. Perhaps you’re in the park and see a football goal. Football goals are usually around 8 feet, so you can estimate from there. Looking through your legs is another way of trying to work out how tall a tree is. Stand with your back to the tree and walk as far away from it as you think it’s tall. Look backwards through your legs and, if you can see the top of the tree, you’re getting the correct height. If you need to move forwards or backwards, you can. The distance you are from the centre of the trunk is the tree’s height.
Another outdoor learning experience that helps you measure trees is using a pencil and getting your child to hold it up vertically at arm’s length. Make sure the sharpened tip is at the top of the tree. Encourage your child to hold the pencil near the opposite. Either move towards or away from the tree until your thumb lines up with the ground level, while keeping the tip of the pencil on the top of the tree. Ensure the child doesn’t move their grip, arm length or feet, gently turn the pencil horizontally. Line your thumb up with the centre of the trunk on the ground. Now, you have to move out from the tree until your feet are at the tip of the pencil. This has to be done by walking sideways, not towards or away from your child. The distance from you to the centre of the trunk is the height of the tree.
Learning Outside: Active Maths
Maths can be seen as abstract and particularly hard to grasp, particularly when studying in places like the classroom. Outdoor learning eliminates this and allows children to pick up numeracy from the world around them. Using skills like addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, children can use nature to create numeracy activities. Equipment that makes these activities easier is a large space, a ball for all catching abilities, a tape measure, string, and chalk. The first game that could be played is the ball function game. Throw a ball between the group where the ball can represent what happens to the number. For example, if the ball represented multiply by 3, and the child who had the ball was on 4, the person who catches it should say 12 and so on.
Jumping equations are another brilliant way of active maths. So, if you jump three times and then hop four times, you can get your child to work out how many times your feet have touched the ground. This is a great way for them to interact with equations as it can be expressed as (3×2) and then add 4, so we know the answer is 10. Animal noises are another great way to get children to interact with maths. Get children to sit with you and count from one. Pick the times tables that you are going to follow, so say 6. Every time the 6 times tables occur to get the children to make a bark to represent a dog. If it’s the 3 times table, let them make a bird sound and so on. If the same numbers occur in both, get them to make a pig sound. A great way for children to reimagine their times’ tables.
Outdoor Learning: Animal Seed Dispersal Game
Outdoor teaching ideas can provide a perfect platform for understanding the world around you and your children. Learning how trees grow is another important way of engaging with that. The things you will need are raisins and open space. Get the children to pretend they are squirrels and provide them with raisins. Explain to them these raisins represent acorns and they need to gather them for the coming winter. Give the children five minutes to hide their acorns and then do another activity for at least thirty minutes, then let the children find the acorns around the space. If they haven’t stolen other acorns or they can’t find them, then you can discuss what perhaps has happened to those acorns – they may have been the seeding of new oak trees.
This is a perfect way to bring up animal seed dispersal and how it is crucial for plant biology. It also opens the discussion for the other methods of seed dispersal like lovely berries on trees which animals eat and are excreted (eventually) with their seeds intact and a little fertiliser with them. If you are in a garden or park, look around the space to find the different ways plants have adapted to make this easier through hooks and bristles and so on. This allows the plants to stick to animals and be mechanically dispersed, again aiding in seed distribution. Outdoor teaching ideas and biology go hand-in-hand.
Outdoor Education: Learning in Air
With a wealth of outdoor teaching ideas to engage with, learning outside of the classroom has become an exciting opportunity to reevaluate how children learn by giving them examples that also allow them to connect with nature. There are plenty of subjects that can be covered by the great outdoors. Take your children outside for outdoor learning and watch as they can learn concepts quicker than in the classroom.