After a very cold and snowy (for this area, anyway) February, it is finally SPRING! I don't know about you, but I am so happy that it is beginning to warm up, and we are able to go outside during the day. Here are five ways to get your class outside, while still learning.
Warm spring days are perfect for heading outside to read. This week, we spent time outside reading chapters of our current novel, The Westing Game. The kids loved getting out of the classroom, and were focused and engaged the entire time, even though we were outside. Whether you head outside for a book club, read aloud, or just Read to Self time, reading is the perfect outdoor activity.
Take a Walk!
If you're in the early grades, it's pretty easy to justify a Nature Walk with your class. (I miss those days!) But if you're like me, and teach in the upper elementary grades, it's a little harder to tie a Nature Walk in with your content standards. Fortunately, this is where The Walking Classroom comes in! If you haven't heard of them, this is a company that makes mp3 players loaded with standards-aligned educational podcasts for fourth and fifth grades. We haven't gotten started yet this year, but last year, my students LOVED our daily walks around the neighborhood. The mp3 players are quite expensive, but they have some amazing donors and frequently have grants available for class sets!
Hello, Science!There are so many ways to make science more fun by teaching lessons outside! One of my favorites during our Force & Motion unit is the Water Bucket Experiment. (There's no way you'd ever get me to do that one inside, anyway!) Of course, everyone loves a good Vinegar & Baking Soda Volcano for teaching chemical reactions or Bottle Rocket Launch. Think through what you're teaching in science, and try to get out for as many activities and experiments as you can!
Do some Math!
It's easy to come up with ways to get outside during reading class, but it is often harder for me to remember to incorporate outside learning time into math or other subjects. Any time you have planned a lesson that is mostly student practice or exploration, rather than lots of teacher-directed instruction, you can easily do this outdoors. Give everyone a clipboard, toss your manipulatives in a basket, and head outside! I teach math first thing in the morning, when our playgrounds are usually empty, so we often sit on the rubber mat and the playground equipment to do our math practice.
Last, but not least, every teacher knows the value of a good bribe, especially during these last, trying, months of school. Whether you do Teacher vs. Student, or the more traditional "O-U-T-S-I-D-E" letters on the board, extra recess time is the #1 choice in whole class rewards for the spring! After being cooped up all winter, my class will do just about anything for a little extra recess time at the end of the day!
How do you incorporate some outdoors time into your school day?