Spring has sprung and everyone in the classroom is feeling the effects. Kids are looking out of the window and fidgeting in their seats, waiting for the chance to get outside and enjoy the warm and sunny goodness awaiting them. So are you, frankly. Be honest – you’ve caught yourself glancing out at the beautifully bright spring day yourself, unable to ignore the pull. So how do you get everyone, including yourself, to focus on the task at hand? Give them what they want and go outside!
Wait – it’s not as simple as it sounds. While going outside to play for a while sounds enticing, if you tweak a few things in your curriculum you can make an outdoor excursion relevant to your class work.
Use your surroundings to complement your lessons.
Talk about the active and dormant states of grass; discuss evergreens and how they survive during colder months; talk about migration patterns of birds. Use the outdoor elements to prove or disprove theories. This will not only reiterate your points on a very real level, it will serve to keep distractions at bay.
Discussing gravity? Choose some games that challenge the theory. Working on balance? Go back to you your field day memories and have three-legged race, hop-alongs, and balancing challenges. In other words: play! Being outside is a great way to put theories to the test and allow your students to posit and test their own hypotheses.
Invite a colleague outside and have a joint class.
Prepare the lesson ahead of time and go out to a grassy area as a group. Use team building techniques to formulate games that are interactive and teach a lesson at the same time. This interaction will go a long way to solidifying concepts in your student’s minds.
Have a scavenger hunt!
Go outside to gather items for your next science lesson. Have the students get leaves, rocks, blades of grass, flower buds, dirt, and anything else you can get your hands on. Keep the lesson a secret and just tell them to find items in nature and bring them back to the classroom. Then come up with an invigorating lesson that studies these items and their contribution to nature.
Give them a break!
Use an outdoor excursion to stretch their legs, feel the sun on their skin, or outright play around for a while as an incentive for good attention and performance during the other portions of the day. They will appreciate the reward more than you know.
People learn from doing, much like young children learn from playing, but there is a limited opportunity for that in a classic school structure. Shake things up! Get outside and use new tools to teach your lessons. Your students will be grateful for the change and you’ll get a little sun out of it at the same time!