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Learning outside (or hands on)


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I am looking for resources on ways to take a lot of our learning activities out doors. Any suggestions?


The more the kids are out doors and moving around the better. We jump rope, swing, and hop scotch math facts...or I write the facts with side walk chalk in a path and she hops along behind me writing the solution. I have played a game where we use two overlapping hula hoops as Venn diagrams and collect items from nature. I take the SOTW activities outside whenever I can. But I feel like I am struggling to come up with ideas.


Any ideas on ways to take the learning out doors. I know there is a lot out there for preschool. I have 3rd and 5th graders.


And, also even if it isn't out side. The more interactive, the better for my kids. Any suggestions in this direction would be helpful.



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I have heard that some schools are taking the Forest Kindergarten idea and expanding it for older students. I don't find anything online right now except one program from Spain that is a "forest club" of sorts. They seem to be taking the "man vs. wild" approach by teaching lots of survival skills, but that sort of thing could be expanded to learning about herbs and other wild, edible plants (and by extension, all areas of botany: flowers, tree i.d. work, etc.) Of course, nature study, entomology, pond and stream studies, soil studies, and other such things could be incorporated, too.




Here's some more info at another site that identifies a list of concepts covered:




Depending on the area where you live, you could come up with potentially lots of patterning and number problem ideas. In my neighborhood, for instance, I'd have my son find out how many streets are in the neighborhood and which is the longest/shortest. I'd have him count a representative sample (say, 10%, including the longest and shortest streets), then find an average number of homes per street and multiply that by the total number of streets to get an estimate of the total houses in the neighborhood. Then we'd compare that to the actual number and talk about finding averages, sample sizes, etc.


Are you in a neighborhood where the same xxxx number of types of houses are built? Is there a pattern to those (only one of each type per street, or every so many houses, for instance?)


Survey the neighbors on any number of subjects (if they're friendly)....


Are there certain types of trees required to line the streets in your neighborhood? Our town has a set number of types that are suggested to line streets. Our neighborhood has all one type, but is looking to change over to allow a variety. If you have a variety, is there a pattern to how they're set out? Can you count the trees on a certain number of streets (as above), then find an average and estimate how many there are lining all the streets of the neighborhood?


Do you have water features in your neighborhood? If so, can they walk off the perimeter or length of those? How about finding out the depth and calculating volume of water held in them? You can drop a leaf in a stream and measure how far it travels in 6 seconds, then multiply by 10 to get speed per minute of water movement....


Graph the number of trees in your yard vs. number of shrubs vs. number of perinniels (if you have lots of plantings) - or do it for another yard that does have lots you can see....


Graph the total number of different types of birds, insects, or all wildlife seen in a set period of time - say 10 minutes....


Graph the number of different types of clouds seen in a week or a month....


Write a paragraph (or 3 sentences, for the younger one, perhaps) about something seen outside: plants, wildlife, clouds, water features, etc. Do these writings in a nature journal that goes outside with them - and include drawings or taped in samples (can be put in ziploc bags and then taped in) of things they're seeing....


Talk about the writing and identify the basic parts of speech of each word in several of the sentences (and use this work to correct the writing, if necessary, once it is seen that perhaps a sentence is missing something, or could use more descriptive adjectives, etc.)


Take some of the things you're seeing outside and turn those into a spelling list for them (i.e., types of birds seen today: robin, cardinal, mockingbird, etc. or types of trees identified: oak, pine, fir, arbor vitae, etc.)


Read some good books about nature while lounging under the trees (perhaps with a picnic)....


Prepare some nature poetry, songs, etc. and go over those for memory work while outside....


In spring, compare types of buds and flowers; in early summer, do a leaf collection (before bugs ruin leaves); in late summer, compare warm season grasses (different sizes and types of seed heads; can use different sizes for measuring); in fall, collect seeds, cones and nuts (can compare and graph those); in winter, compare twig sizes (more measuring) and bark types (more graphing)....


Measure the length of needles on different types of pine trees.


That's all I can think of at the moment....

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Yes, I have a rectangular pool...and a very little pond. I have trees but not sure how I would ever count them.


I will write a list of ideas. Yours were very helpful!


I'm not really looking for just "nature studies" as in identifying trees, plants,etc. I mean that's good. But I also notice they like to move and be outside in general so I am just looking for ways to get out there.


Thanks for your response!

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Is there any issue in your neighbourhood you could get your kids to write to a local newpaper about - I am planning on getting my 4 year old to take photos of some very bad potholes near where we live and send them to the town paper - she is not up for the writing yet, but the newspaper has been asking for them so its a way to teach her about a lot of things and if she were older it could include writing skills and journalism/letter writing, photography skills and even research.


You could play games outside with geography - label areas as whatever you need (capitals/countries/types of land mass - whatever you happen to be studying) and get them to run between the areas or set up displays of what else is in that area.


For grammar you could get them to walk around the neighbourhood finding as many parts of speech as they can (this can be adapted for vocabulary/reading/phonics/number recognition or even math sums - make them a math sum something like this: the first number you see multiplied by the third house number you see on a gate divided by the last digit on a cell number you see written somewhere.... and so on using the math skills they need to practice)

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We always take our work outside. My oldest DS has some sensory stuff going on and he can't stand the sidewalk chalk. I bring a whiteboard and a marker and he's as happy as a lark! I bought each child a clipboard to hold papers also. Almost everything I would do with them inside we can do outside on a blanket.


Sometimes I'll make up games with the basketball hoop like answer the question, take a shot if you are right. Get it in, get a point. Miss it, I get the point! I am constantly making stuff up and changing the rules.


We have made giant clocks and used our bodies for the hour and minute hands.


For my little guy I write words on the driveway and he has to read them every time he rides his bike over a word.


Sometimes we ride our bikes to the playground. They like to sit at the top of the slide with their books.


I might be able to give you some other ideas if I knew your content and what your kids like to do.

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