Homeschool Classroom – Take Spring Learning Outdoors!May 19th, 2012 | By Jessica Parnell | Category: Featured Articles, Homeschooling Outdoors
The spring season is the perfect time to move your classroom out of doors – the simple act of being outside and breathing fresh air, and feeling the breeze on your skin can be invigorating and inspiring for parent and student alike. Taking learning outdoors shouldn’t just be a case of half an hour of story-time in the sunshine. The outdoor classroom is a world full of opportunities for learning, creating and exploring. We’ve taken the opportunity to put together some fabulous spring learning ideas for you!
Outdoor Classroom Ideas
Develop a Learning Garden
Teacher Elmarie Gunther decided to set up an outdoor experience that her children could visit on a regular basis, by incorporating learning experiences from all aspects of both gardening AND business. “We transformed our home corner into a garden centre. Every week we introduced something new and different to the garden centre for the children. We had Christmas trees and measured their heights, we planted beans in preparation for our Jack and the Beanstalk role play, we had a flower shop which involved taking orders, making up bouquets, writing messages for the bouquets, delivering the bouquets to the right person within school at the right time and handling the money.”
Kerry Hutchings of the Nurture Group Teacher and Environmental Education Coordinator at Camps Hill Primary School has found that, “Many children are very natural and engaged horticulturalists if given the opportunity. Engagement is never a problem when the children are learning outside and their sense of ownership in their growing and nurturing activities is really strong. It’s really fun when they are able to grow, harvest and then see their food being served in the school canteen. Once they were fully grown we used our pumpkins to make pumpkin cake and to roast them with potatoes and carrots.”
Create a Sensory Mystery
Have your children record the sounds from several streams, creeks or rivers that you may have access to. Play them back to family members and see if they can guess where you were when you made the recording, and what made the sound. Have your child think of clues ahead of time to help others to guess.
Next, using your nose and a tape measure, determine how far you can move away from a flower or identified scent and still smell its essence. While the smell of trailing arbutus may only be discernible for several feet, spring lilacs can be scented from much farther.
Using a camera with a good close-up lens, take pictures of the same buds on several different trees or bushes every day for a week or two in a row. Arrange the pictures from first to last and note the different rates for leaf out. Which tree or bush leafs out first, last? Make sure to identify them all, and what nuts or berries they may produce for local wildlife.
Investigate Landscapes Through Art
Outdoor art is a great and inspirational venue for creativity and fun. Take a whole box of art supplies – watercolors, sponges, paper, and even easels if you have access to them along on your adventure. If you’re not naturally artistic, there are many online drawing resources to help you prepare ahead of time!
Leaves also make excellent specimens for charcoal or colored pencil rubbings – the texture and outline of the leaf will come right through. You can later identify what trees the leaves belong to by researching online, with a book or manual. Make sure to pay attention to the texture and color of a tree’s bark as well – it helps with identification!
Spend a Day at a Nature Preserve or Conservation Organization
Spring is the time when most conservation groups and wildlife refuges begin a flurry of programs for children. Hop online and look around your area – you will most certainly be surprised at what you find. Spend a day focusing on our entire ecosystem and its local flora and fauna, and investigate our own individual roles in the conservation of precious resources.
Participation in these types of programs not only teaches our children about wildlife and natural resources, it helps to build a sense of pride and community – and a feeling that they CAN make a difference in their own future through their actions now. Showing a child how non-profit organizations come together and form groups through the hard work of volunteers will leave an invaluable and permanent impression – that in order to truly have, you must be willing to give.
Homeschool parents know that the best lessons happen in the midst of real life experiences. Verbal lessons are sometimes difficult for children to absorb. It’s much more fun to take the teaching outside, both investigating and learning at the same time. Enjoy the spring!
Additional homeschooling posts:
Summertime Blues: What to Do When It Strikes You Hard
“Everyone else from public school gets the whole summer off.
Holiday Cheer: How to Survive a Homeschool Christmas with Peace and Joy
Bridgeway’s Helpful Guide to Eliminating the Stress of the Holiday Season Persevering through the highs and lows of the Christmas season can be a bit stressful for any family – especially a homeschool family.