Venturing out into nature is one of the best places for children to learn, and I would like to show you how, through introducing you to some great outdoor classroom ideas.
It is well known that the outdoors is beneficial to children’s health and well being. They need vitamin D from the sunshine and they require lots of fresh air, they need room to run and jump and shout and play.
Young children in particular have loads of energy and require an outlet for it, otherwise they are driving everyone crazy indoors if they are cooped up for long periods of time. Keep them in too long and they are bouncing off the walls.
They also need to explore their environment and feed their growing curiosity and their need for answers.
I would just like to say that I write from my own personal experiences and share what I believe could be of value to others.
Bush or Forest Walks
Bush or forest walks are a great way to get out and about, burn off some of that excess energy, and go exploring.
It can also be a very fun and relaxing way to spend the day. An adventure!
So , pack a picnic, throw together a discovery kit or basket, full of goodies for the young explorer (You can find out how to put one of these together over in my post Kids outdoor discovery basket.) and head out into nature. You can use this as an opportunity for hands on learning that can’t be recreated in the classroom.
It is amazing what children can learn and discover in the bush:
- Learning to identify and name types of tress and plants- which ones to avoid
- Species of birds, insects and small animals-remember to observe and return to their habitat
- Spiderwebs and rabbit holes
- How to cross a stream or creek
- Identifying small fish, tadpoles, frogs and other water and pond life
- Safety around water and in the bush in general following paths
These are just a few that come to mind but the possibilities are endless.
Discovering Patterns in Nature
There are some amazing patterns in nature if you look closely, and this can provide a wonderful learning experience for children.
Do you recall (and you probably still do it) laying on your back in the grass and looking up at the clouds to discover shapes and patterns?
What kind of patterns or shapes might you find outdoors?
- rays of sunlight coming through the clouds
- mirror images on water
- ripples on ponds or puddles
- fern leaves and fronds
- tree bark
If you look around you in nature, you will begin to see patterns and shapes in everything. It opens up a whole new world of learning opportunities to share with children. They will start to see the patterns as you point them out and will become excited about discovering their own. Give them a camera and let them take pictures that they can then use to create their own artwork from.
By exploring this way children are being exposed to early mathematical concepts in fun and meaningful ways.
Sand and Water
Children will spend hours playing in water and sand and while this may seem like just play, this is where they gain some valuable insights.
If children are provided with tools and materials to experiment with they do not just amuse themselves, they begin to construct waterways and catchment areas.
They dig and build, and shape things. They talk about what they are doing and are testing all sorts of theories as they play and work.
- tip and pour
- fill and empty
- measure and compare
- question and test
They are using science and mathematical concepts like:
- water flow
- angles and leverage cause and affect
This is all happening through self directed play and experimentation.
By observing and interacting, making suggestions and posing questions you are in a unique position to help enhance and extend children’s knowledge and learning experiences.
Using the Elements
Being outdoors in any season provides a range of possibilities for children to explore and learn from those hands on real experiences that you cant get from a book or the internet.
Water, and rain,- seeing puddles form and then turn to mud when the sun comes out.
Wind,– the invisible element, children can feel it blowing and watch leaves swirling and lifting off the ground or falling from the trees. Flying a kite.
Sunshine,- the warmth of it on skin, it’s ability to cast shadows and create clear reflections on water
Snow, ice and frost.-Feeling the cold and the wet as it melts
Earth– discovering the feel of it under bare feet and seeing how things grow
This is all important early sensory play that can only be learned from experiencing it first hand.
There is so much potential learning for children through this type of play.
A classroom does not have to be a building with walls and windows. Let children see the outdoors from the other side of the window.
Let them feel and interact with the elements, jump in puddles, run bare foot in the rain and scoop up hand fulls of dried leaves and scatter them everywhere. Let your inner child out and join them too.
This way they find out so much more for themselves and are able to build healthy minds and bodies.
They will develop an appreciation for the living world around them and not have to learn it all from a book or a screen where they are disconnect from the real world.
I am not against books (I love them) or digital devices, but there is nothing quite like the real thing!
I hope this gives you some new ideas and another perspective on learning in the outdoors and inspires you to venture out.
Thank you for stopping by and I would love to hear from you, and hear your experiences and ideas.
Drop me a line in the comment box below and have a great day!
Founder and CEO of The Treasure Baskets