English Language Arts
At the end of a unit on poetry or literature, set aside a class period to host a descriptive writing session in a park or other green space. Wander outside with students with pen and notebook in hand. Encourage students to use their five senses to shape a composition, and foster a discussion on the importance of nature in literature. Feel free to prompt students with a theme, or let the ideas flow freely!
A game of predator-prey tag is educational and memorable for younger children, and can also spark new friendships and conversations. You can make the game more educational by having students use animals they see in their everyday lives. For older students, it can be enlightening to bring an ecology or biology lesson closer to home. Working together in groups, have students go outside and find an organism (such as a pigeon or butterfly) for which they can construct a complex food web. Then, have them compare food-webs to find connections between their different organisms.
One way to incorporate outdoor instruction into the math classroom is by having students gather sticks and other natural items in order to teach a unit on angles, symmetry, or shapes. Instruct students to represent different angle types or polygons, or to use sticks to illustrate reflective or rotational symmetry. Allowing students participate in these kinds of activities offers them a tangible, hands-on way to experience math.
Go to a local park and introduce students to its unique history. Use this trip to host a discussion on the role and importance of green spaces in community planning (this could be a good place to bring up Fredrick Olmsted!), or how natural areas can serve as monuments.
Journey around the school campus or local neighborhood and collect pinecones, leaves, and flowers. Use these items to create a natural art piece, or paint a still life from them. Through this, students grasp that nature can serve not only as an inspiration for art but also a medium for creating it. You can also make art out of recycled materials at your school, which is a great way to engage students with sustainability issues in the art classroom!
Venture outside the gym for a nature walk, and introduce students to creative ways to be active. Set up a ropes course in a local forest or park for your students. This is a great way to really engage students in their surroundings and encourage team building.
The outdoors present ample opportunities to enhance student learning across multiple subject areas. Incorporating outdoor activities into curriculum allows students to engage in hands-on activity in new environments. Hopefully these ideas can help you incorporate outdoor instruction into your instruction!
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