Outdoor learning is an educational approach that incorporates learning experiences in natural settings. It has been shown to improve academic performance, social and emotional development, and physical health. See below the benefits and how to implement this approach into your teachings!
Why Now is a Perfect Time to Learn Outdoors
There is no better time to implement outdoor learning into your student’s education than now. Unfortunately, with the COVID-19 pandemic, many schools have been forced to close their doors and move learning online. However, this doesn’t mean that learning has to stop altogether. In fact, studies have shown that spending time in nature can boost mental well-being and overall health, both of which are crucial during this time. So, now is the time to get outside and incorporate outdoor learning into your student’s education.
Benefits of Outdoor Learning
Here are the four main benefits of outdoor learning:
#1: Improved Academic Performance
One of the most obvious benefits of outdoor learning is its impact on academic performance. Studies have shown that students who learn in nature perform better on tests and have increased attention spans. Furthermore, they are more likely to retain information and show higher levels of creativity.
#2: Enhanced Social and Emotional Development
Outdoor learning has been shown to enhance social and emotional development. For example, students who learn in nature are more likely to cooperate with others, have increased self-esteem, and show more empathy. Also, they are less likely to experience anxiety and depression.
#3: Improved Physical Health
In addition to the mental health benefits, outdoor learning often improves physical health. When students spend more time outside, they are more active and have a lower risk of obesity. They also have stronger immune systems and are less likely to develop chronic diseases since they are not just sitting inside the same classroom all day.
#4: Improved Environmental Awareness
Finally, outdoor learning improves environmental awareness. Students who learn in nature are more likely to appreciate and protect the environment. They are also more likely to engage in pro-environmental behaviors, such as recycling and composting. This helps everyone in the present and the future!
These are just four of the many benefits of outdoor learning. So if you’re looking for a way to improve your student’s overall performance, health, and well-being, then outdoor learning is the way to go!
Top 8 Activities for Learning Outside
Now that you know the benefits of outdoor learning, it’s time to start incorporating it into your student’s education. Here are eight activities that you can do with your students:
#1: Nature Hikes
One of the best ways to get students outside is to take them on nature hikes. This is a great opportunity for students to explore and learn about the natural world around them. Make sure to stop along the way to point out different plants, animals, and landscape features.
Gardening is always a fun and educational outdoor learning activity. You can show students how to plant seeds, care for plants, and harvest fruits and vegetables. You can even have students help with the cooking afterward!
#3: Bird Watching
Bird watching can help teach students about the local ecosystem and the different types of birds that live in your area. Teachers will need to bring binoculars and a bird identification book. In addition, bird watching can teach students patience and observation skills.
#4: Scavenger Hunts
Scavenger hunts are effective for getting students moving while also encouraging them to pay attention to their surroundings. You can hide objects around your schoolyard or nature trail and give students a list of things to find. They can do this individually or in teams.
#5: Nature Journals
Nature journals are for students to document their experiences in nature. This can include drawings, sketches, poems, or even just written observations. In addition, nature journals are a great way for students to reflect on the benefits of outdoor learning.
#6: Star Gazing
Star gazing is a great way to get students interested in astronomy. Teachers must bring a telescope and star chart and explain the different constellations. This activity can really spark students’ imaginations, but unfortunately, it can only be done at night.
#7: Cloud Watching
Cloud watching is a relaxing way for students to observe the sky and learn about the different types of clouds. This is an excellent activity for days when it’s too hot or cold to be outside for long periods of time. Afterward, you can have a quiz on the different cloud types.
#8: Beach Clean-Up
If you are looking for a way to give back and teach students about the environment, a beach clean-up is the way to go. All the classrooms can team up and clean up a section of the beach. This is a fun and helpful activity for Earth Day or any other day!
There are so many outdoor learning activities you can have your students do. Use this list to get started!
Outdoor learning is crucial for academic growth, physical health, improved environmental awareness, and so much more. If you’re looking for a way to improve your student’s education, make sure to incorporate outdoor learning into your lesson plans!
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