Taking Learning Outside
As the days grow longer and the temperatures increase, it affords us the opportunity to take our homeschool studies outside. Both you and your children often find the “outdoor classroom” a refreshing change. Below you will find suggestions to help you take the learning outside.
Create a Garden
One outdoor activity that provides many opportunities for adding to your students’ learning experience is the planning and planting of a garden. A family garden can enhance instruction for all of your children, no matter their age. Such a joint activity also gives you the opportunity to teach your children valuable life skills such as responsibility and the importance of daily exercise, as they take on the jobs of watering and weeding the garden.
- Allow your younger child to practice their counting skills by counting such things as the number of garden tools used, the seeds/seedlings that you plant, and the scoops of dirt needed to plant each seed/seedling.
- Have your child use their measurement skills to mark off the boundaries of the garden and decide how far apart each plant should be. (You will need to do some research to determine how much room each type of plant needs.) As the plants grow, have your child measure their growth and keep a chart of the progress. Use the chart to compare the growth of the different types of plants you planted.
- Use the rows of plants to reinforce the concepts of multiplication and fractional parts of a whole (Example: ¼ of the tomato plants is how many plants?)
- Identify the different types of plants in the garden and observe what makes them different. Keep annotated notes of such things as the color of each type of plant, how many stems and leaves does each plant have, and what type of flower, fruit or vegetable does each plant produce. Note the yield that each plant produces.
- Research the parts of a plant and identify each part on the plants in your garden.
- Go to your local library to find both informational and fictional books pertaining to gardening. Two examples for your younger students would be, Growing Vegetable Soup and Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert.
Additionally, outside learning can be incorporated into most any subject areas. Below you will find several suggestions for incorporating outside learning into such areas as language arts, math and science.
- Give your child a camera and take them on a “photo safari”. Have them take pictures of the “wildlife” in your neighborhood (insects, spiders, squirrels, birds, dogs etc.). Use the photos to illustrate an adventure story from the perspective of someone who had never seen these animals before.
- Collect samples from outside such as leaves, pebbles, tree bark and flowers to glue into a book. Have your child write about what they found.
- Spend time outside reading, either as a group or individually.
- Give your child sidewalk chalk or a bucket of water and paint brush and have them solve their math problems on the driveway or sidewalk.
- Have your child practice their addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division tables while they jump rope or clap their hands.
- Go on a “math hunt” by having your child hunt for things that naturally occur in sets of 2, 4, or 6. Have them create a table to show what they have discovered.
- Set up a simple weather station outside, where your child can keep track of the daily temperatures and precipitation. Create a weather chart where their findings can be recorded.
- Take your child star gazing. Help them find the various stars, constellations and planets. Spend some time researching to find the names of each.
- Take photos of the different types of trees and bushes in your neighborhood. Have your child research to find out the names of each type as well as their specific characteristics.
- Put a birdbath or feeder in your yard. Have your child use a bird book to find the names and characteristics of each type of bird they see.
These ideas are just a few of the many outside learning activities that you can incorporate into your homeschool studies. It is hoped that they will spur you on to creating some of your own unique ideas that meet your child’s needs. So get those creative juices working and have fun taking the learning outside.