Sunday, April 30, 2017

Learning Outdoors: Ideas to Get Students Learning about their Local Environment

I'm loving the nicer weather and thinking about ways to get my students learning outside in the natural environment. Students spend a lot of time indoors and glued 'almost literally' to technology. 

Below are a list of activities that you can do outdoors to not only get students thinking about their natural environment, but also gets students outside getting exercise and fresh air! 

1. Bug Hunting 
Have your students search under rocks, logs, on the forest floor for insects. Have them use a magnifying glass to get a closer look. Identify the bug and draw a picture. If students choose to, they can do a further inquiry about their insects. 

2. Bird watching 
Take the class to the beach, bird sanctionary, or pond to look for birds. Students can then inquire about the type of bird, the shape of it's feet, the type of beak it has and from this information predict what it eats, where it nests, and then find other facts about the birds they find. 

3. Plant a tree or a garden
Have students truly connect with the outdoors and learn the life cycle of a plant by planting seeds and taking care of a plant. 

4. Webbing 
This is a game/activity that gets students thinking about the interconnectedness of forest or beach life. You will need a ball of yarn. The first student names a plant and then holds the end of the yarn and passes the ball of yarn to another student who says the name of a plant or animal that eats that plant. Students will continue to pass the ball of yarn around while going through the food chain of that local area. 

5. Sardines 
This is a fun game to play outdoors. With this game there is one hider and the rest of the class is the seekers. One person counts to 50 while the hider runs and hides. After 50 seconds the class separates to find the hider. When a classmate finds the hider they squeeze in the hiding spot and hide with the hider until everyone finds them. 

6. Outdoor role playing 
This a mindful activity where students get to think about their natural environment and become part of it. With this activity you will ask students to be a frog, a rock, a mountain... anything that is in your local natural environment. After awhile you can turn the game around and have students role play and you guess what they are. 

7. Use a stethoscope to listen to a tree. 

8. Have a nature scavenger hunt! 
This is always fun to have students look for leaves, pine cones, plants, and trees. Students can draw certain things they find or collect them. Another idea is to have a nature alphabet scavenger hunt where students look for an item in their local environment that begins with each letter of the alphabet. 

Are you interested in doing an outdoor scavenger hunt with your students? 
You should check out my Exploring Our Local Environment: Scavenger Hunt and Inquiry Project Unit. This unit starts off with an outdoor scavenger hunt and includes a variety of graphic organizers and activities that can be completed in any outdoor setting. The unit ends with all of the criteria, assessment, and resources that you will need for students to narrow in on one aspect of interest in their local environment and complete an inquiry project on their chosen interest. 

9. Go for a Hike
Have students go for a hike and then make a map of the local park or area. 

10. Rock garden 
This is a fun way to get students in touch with nature. Have students go for a walk and find a rock to bring it back to the classroom. On their chosen rock students can paint or use permanent markers to create an image to represent one fact about their local environment. 

Looking for more ideas for learning outdoors? Check out my Bubbles Unit! This 34 page science unit is jam packed with hands on bubbles related science activities, graphic organizers, and much more! 

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