Monday, April 18, 2016

Spring into April- Quick and Easy Outdoor Learning Ideas

Happy Monday! It's Stacia from Collaboration Cuties, and I'm excited to share some quick and easy outdoor learning ideas with you!
Make sure to check out all the great ideas in our April series!
I love the month of April and the warm weather, but it always seems to be the time when the kids start to get antsy and even a little off-the-wall (especially if you have state testing going on!). One thing that I loved doing with my students was taking them outside for some fresh air and outdoor learning. Sometimes, just getting out of the classroom can make a huge difference with behavior and attention! :)

We wouldn't go far- on the sidewalk or on the blacktop or around the playground or in a grassy spot on the field. It just depended what we were doing. And we didn't stay out forever- just 10-25 minutes or as long as the activity required. There are so many learning opportunities outside, but here are a few ideas for math and science.
My students loved doing outdoor math activities! Usually, I had the students bring their math journal and a pencil. Sometimes they brought whiteboards, markers, and erasers instead. You can also have them bring an iPad or camera if you have one to take photos (depending on the activity).

-Fractions- Let students find fractions of a whole and of a set outside around the school. Have them record their fractions in their math journals. Then, practice simplifying the fractions, adding the fractions, comparing the fractions, etc. 
Examples of fractions they may find: number of girls or boys,  colors of flowers, types of trees, colors of cars in the parking lot, number of students playing soccer vs basketball, number of adults vs kids

-Measurement- Have students bring rulers or yardsticks or other measuring tools out with them. Let them measure a variety of objects and areas. Then, have them compare their measurements and convert them. 
Examples of measurements: width of the slide, height of the slide, width of the track, height of a plant, width of the sidewalk, length of the jump rope

-Area and Perimeter- Students can calculate area and perimeter of different areas by measuring around and multiplying the length times the width or adding up all the sides. 
Examples: basketball court, playground, sidewalk section, bench seat, garden, picnic table, four square board, hop scotch square

-Geometry- Have students identify geometric figures. You can even let them take photos or draw pictures of the figures they find. 
Examples: lines and angles making up the building or playground, polygons and solid figures

-Estimation- Let students estimate the number of various objects outside. Then, have students discuss and compare estimates to determine if they are reasonable. You can have students add and subtract their estimates as well. 
Examples: flowers, cars, trees, balls, students, birds, squirrels, clouds, blades of grass, bricks
Outdoor science activities are so much fun! Again, I usually had students bring their science journals and a pencil (sometimes crayons or colored pencils too). And, you can also have them bring an iPad or camera if you have one to take photos (depending on the activity).

-Light- Have students investigate light with prisms. They love seeing the "rainbows" they can create. Then have them draw and label the colors of the visible spectrum in their science notebooks. 

-Ecosystems- Let students explore the ecosystems and habitats found all around the school. You may have forest ecosystems, pond or creek ecosystems, garden ecosystems, etc. Students can draw the ecosystem and label the parts. Key vocabulary they can include: living and non-living, organism, predator, prey, carnivore, herbivore, omnivore, food chain, food web

-Water Cycle- Show students that the water cycle is all around them. Let them observe evaporation, condensation, precipitation, and collection. Have them draw and label the different parts. 

-Clouds- Let students identify the different types of clouds and draw what they see. Then, discuss how the clouds affect the weather. This is a quick and easy activity to do when you are walking back in from the playground after recess!

-Adaptations- Talk with students about the plants and animals they see around the school grounds. Discuss why certain plants and animals make their homes there. How are they able to survive? What would happen if they were moved to another habitat? Students can record the different plant and animal adaptations they see in their science journals. 

I hope some of these outdoor learning ideas may work for you and your students! 

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