Experiencing nature is becoming a bigger part of today’s school classroom. From gaining knowledge about new animals and their beginnings, to plants and how they grow, there is so much to learn in an early childhood education outdoor learning classroom.
Learning takes time, and outdoor learning is no exception. Below we laid out five energizing early childhood education outdoor learning activities and explained why they are important for the little ones you’re teaching day-to-day.
This is not your everyday painting; it’s painting and watching your creation evaporate. Painting outdoors is a great science project for children and a great lesson plan for you as a future teacher or current educator. Bring along a timer to measure how long it takes for a water painting on the sidewalk, driveway or road to evaporate (Tip: Try this on both a cloudy and sunny day and note how long it takes for the water to disappear). As you do this, make sure you’re asking the students questions about their observations or suggest they make a hypothesis beforehand.
Schools with gardens are becoming extremely popular these days. It’s especially gained popularity since First Lady Michelle Obama began the Let’s Move! Initiative, which focuses on helping local elementary school students connect with the food they eat, so they can lead a healthier lifestyle. To give your current and future students the same experience, look into planting a school community garden. With a school community garden, you can teach students the importance of different foods in their diet, where the foods originate from, culinary practices, and history of the plants.
3. Animal investigation
Teach your current or future students about the life cycle and the history behind the animals they see outdoors. Ask early childhood students questions about what the animals look like, what they eat, where they live, and record their answers for a diorama with their explanations and pictures they drew of the animals outdoors.
4. Plant investigation
Similar to the animal investigation model above, take your students outdoors and have them experience plant life. Bring them to an outdoor greenhouse, the zoo or outdoors at your school, possibly to even plant a tree. Have your students examine plants and try to incorporate the five senses by asking them about the shapes, smells, and the feel of the plants. After you’re done with the exercise, teach your students about the plants’ history and where they originated from.
5. Nature preserve
Travel with your students to a nature preserve for an interesting and fun learning model. There are many nature preserves in the country to travel to; visit the National Park Service website for information about national parks and preserves in your area. Parks and preserves give students a better understanding of the world around them and the animals that inhabit the space.
Have any of the above five energizing early childhood education outdoor learning activities sparked your interest in teaching early childhood education, or have they made you excited about the outdoor learning model for your current students? Let us know what your thoughts are in the comments below or share your thoughts with us on Facebook.