Nicola from The World is Their Classroom is a home educator to her five children aged 15, 12, 9, 7 and 4. She is passionate about making learning fun and often takes her lessons outside, capturing the importance of learning outdoors. You can find ideas for educational products and activities on The World Is Their Classroom, a website bursting with creative and engaging ideas for children of all ages.
In celebration of Walk in the Woods Month, Nicola has written a post about the importance of learning outdoors and what the benefits are.
We love taking our classroom outdoors all year round, but throughout the month of May we are taking part in Walk in the Woods Month by heading out into our local woods to see nature spring back to life and to celebrate our local trees. There are so many benefits of learning out in the fresh air, from developing children’s communication skills to nurturing their creativity as they ramble through fields of bluebells and listen to bird song.
Today we ventured into the woods to discover what wildlife is lurking under the ponds and streams using our GeoSafari® SeaScope®. The kiddies then collected what they found by popping the creatures carefully into their GeoSafari® Jr. Critter Habitat to observe them more closely. They also trundled along with their 5-in-1 Outdoor Measure-Mate™, this tool is perfect for measuring on the go!
Taking children outside into the fresh air encourages physical activity. My kiddies certainly get more exercise when they are measuring the perimeter of large grassy fields with the Measure-Mate. This robust learning tool can easily cope with the different terrain in the woods, so the kiddies can measure as they amble their way across rocky patches too. As soon as we were over the gate and into the woods, they were off! They ran along collecting twigs to make dens, identified leaves and spotted the local deer bobbing around in the bushes. With the Measure-Mate they could easily change it into a vertical measure, callipers, spirit level or measuring stick, they then measured the leaves and pine cones they found and recorded the figures in their notebooks.
Outdoor learning encourages better behaviour! My kiddies always seem more well behaved when they are exploring outdoors. They no longer feel the need to annoy each other, but help and encourage each other to explore paths and streams. Today they worked together to observe all the black, wriggly tadpoles in the ponds. They carefully submerged their GeoSafari® SeaScope® into the water and switched on the built in LED light to illuminate what was lurking beneath. They were amazed to see the pond full of tadpoles as they zoomed in on large groups of these little creatures. They were also able to discover more about them by scooping them up carefully with their GeoSafari® Jr. Critter Habitat, which supports both wet and dry habitats, and then using the magnifying windows to peer through at them as they made sketches.
Each time we visit the woods the kiddies have a better understanding and attitude towards the environment and learn how it is important to conserve our local area. They enjoy planning litter picks, help clear the streams and have made wooden duck huts for the winter, which were put in our local park.
They also speak to each other in a more positive way when we are outdoors, developing their communication skills. They discuss topics that interest them and always ask lots of questions about their surroundings. The older ones listen to the younger ones chatter away about birds and beetles! GeoSafari® Jr. Critter Habitat has given them the opportunity to collect leaves, bugs, fish and tadpoles and observe them in greater detail, asking lots more questions.
When the kiddies are outdoors, they feel free to explore! They can make all the mess they want, pick up leaves and bugs and build the wildest den they can imagine. They can create their own role plays with natural things they discover around them nurturing creativity and imagination.
Taking your classroom outdoors sparks their imagination and makes their learning that bit more exciting and engaging. We believe learning doesn’t necessarily have to be sat at a table with pen and paper, some children really thrive from practical learning instead of just reading books. Today the kiddies had the opportunity to discover lots of new insects, tadpoles and fish whilst exploring the pond! The little ones enjoyed picking different leaves and climbing over a fallen tree. They enjoyed using the Measure-Mate in order to measure the internal and external dimensions of lots of different objects they discovered as they ambled along.
Being outdoors fuels imaginations! They ask questions and want to learn more about certain topics. Once we returned home, they found reference books on the insects they have discovered, drew pictures and kept nature journals. This is a great way to encourage self-study and further their knowledge of what they have discovered.
Obviously, it doesn’t cost a thing to venture outdoors and you can use any of the free natural materials you come across, which is another great bonus to taking your learning outdoors. There are endless opportunities and resources in your local woods from making leaf/bark rubbings to going on scavenger hunts. Learning Resources have lots of great outdoor learning tools to take along on your outdoor learning adventures.
When taking your classroom outdoors it also provides children with new learning opportunities and life skills. You can plan a den building session or a bug hunt but you’ll find they learn so much more, in a way that suits them!
Finally, my favourite thing about taking the kiddies out and about is creating memories. Memories of childhood last a lifetime and the kiddies will hopefully pass the knowledge and skills they learn to their children in the future. We take plenty of photos and upload them onto our private family blog as well as sharing a few favourites on Instagram here.
So why not take your learning outdoors and into the woods this month, allowing the kiddies to explore the world around them!
Written by Nicola Braund
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