Teachers this year are faced with arguably the TOUGHEST year of their careers. (Hey first year teachers…guess what? We are ALL first year teachers this year!) Teaching during a pandemic is challenging, emotionally heavy, and causes anxiety in many teachers. Even though many parts of this situation are out of our control, there IS something we can do to alleviate some of the stress and anxiety teachers AND student are facing. What is it? If at all possible (weather and location pending) bring your class outside!
Learning in the Great Outdoors
Yes, learning outside may cause distractions, BUT it can also boost creativity and promote inner calm and peace. (In both students and teachers.) Also, it has been proven that when students learn outside, they are more focused and productive in their next indoor lesson. How to do this with elementary students? Here is our outdoor learning strategy!
Have a “Grab & Go Out” Bag
If you happen to notice nice weather out your windows you may decide it is a perfect time to get outside! However, it could take FOREVER for students to pack up their pencils, workbooks, notebooks, dry erase boards/markers, worksheets, books and whatever other materials your lesson requires. Need help finding these materials? Check out these options:
What else will be in the “Grab and Go Out” bags?
A good idea would be to use the Lucky Little Toolkit from day one this year. This gets students familiar with having all their resources in one place. Also, the toolkit is portable and is a great option to take outside! (Also will hold their papers in place in that nice fall breeze!) Want to read more about the Lucky Little Toolkit? Check out this post HERE to learn more!
What could be taught outside?
Any subject can be taught outside! Some examples for outdoor lessons include:
- Head outside with a favorite read aloud. After the reading, have students find objects outside to create an art project related to the story. (Read The Very Hungry Caterpillar and have students find a leaf and other objects to glue down to recreate part of the story.)
- Have students do their independent reading time outside. Set guidelines on where to sit to best build reading stamina.
- Bring out a thermometer and have students graph the temperature. This could turn into a journaling time to write about their favorite weather.
- Dice workout: Students need to release some energy? Bring out a pair of dice and have each student think of an exercise the class can do. Roll the dice, have the class add them up and complete that number of each exercise.
- Scavenger Hunt: this one requires prep ahead of time and a lack of wind/rain, but could be oh so fun! Print out your favorite independent task card based resource. We recommend the super engaging Toothy! (See all things Toothy HERE.) Hide your toothy task cards around your outdoor area, have kids bring out their markers and Toothy mats, and let them explore the area, finding task cards and drawing teeth! They will be learning without even knowing it!
Give it a try!
The idea of outdoor learning can be daunting, but worthwhile. It allows students AND teachers some much needed stress relief, fresh air and variety. We hope the ideas above spark your creativity. Happy teaching!