The days have grown longer and spring fever is in the air, which means your students likely have ants in their pants and need to get outside. Taking students outdoors for various lessons adds interest to the day, exposes kids to nature and breaks up the daily routine leaving everyone feeling more energized. This spring, try these fun outdoor classroom activities with your students.
The outdoors is full of sights, sounds and smells to enthrall our senses. Becoming aware of these sensations and translating them into words can improve students' descriptive writing skills. Spring provides the optimal time to explore our senses outdoors and provide more depth to a piece of writing.
You can add a sensory walk to any writing activity you would normally assign including narrative essays, poetry, persuasive writing or RAFT assignments. Brainstorm a list of adjectives associated with the five senses to build student vocabulary before beginning.
To start off the walk, give every student a small handheld journal or a clipboard with paper they can use to write with outside. The walk itself can take many forms. Try:
- Allowing students to wander, recording their observations;
- Choosing one sense at a time and have students record what they feel with that sense for two minutes before switching senses;
- Pairing students to work together with one partner blindfolded and dictating to the other student what they feel, smell and hear;
- Or going on a walk with students without writing and having them recall every sensory image they can upon return to the classroom.
After the walk, students can return to their assigned writing adding in the vocabulary and sensory details they experienced on their sensory walk.
Nature's Science Lab
Outdoor classroom activities lend themselves well to the science classroom as well for any of the science disciplines. Nature is where science begins, after all.
Look at your current unit of study to determine what activities translate to outdoors. Lessons on plant identification, photosynthesis, rock varieties and weather patterns easily work just as well outside with students getting their hands dirty as they do in a lab or classroom.
Measure for Measure
When we think about outdoor classroom activities, we most often think about reading, writing or science but math translates just as well to the outdoors, especially for lessons in geometry or even simple lessons in taking measurements.
Here are some fun ideas.
- Shape Bingo: Give students Bingo cards with different geometrical shapes and have them find corresponding shapes in nature.
- Measurements: Work with students on their skills with a ruler by having them measure various objects they find.
- Calculations: Students can find the area and dimensions of specific outdoor spaces working on their skills at calculating, estimating and measuring.
Take advantage of the great weather and give everyone a much deserved change of pace by incorporating outdoor classroom activities this spring.