Who says that learning has to do be done inside a classroom?! There’s no reason learning the ABCs needs to be learned inside. In fact, there are lots of ways to encourage a love of reading and writing by spending time outdoors! Listed below are some of the ways that I have found to get kids outdoors and learning, some of which I have used with my own 10 and 7 year old kiddos.
- An easy way to get started is by taking a book outside. Grab a few books and head outside. Bring along a blanket to sit on, find a tree to lean up against or cuddle up in an outdoor fort. Read together or allow your child time to him or herself – whichever feels appropriate. This can easily be done by a classroom teacher as well. We all know those quiet, shaded places tucked away around our school, take advantage of that space with your classroom.
- Paint alphabet rocks-Have kids bring in a rock from home that you can let them paint and add a letter of the alphabet to. You can create a set of alphabet rocks by painting letters on each rock with acrylic paint. Choose a variety of colors or make a set of capital letters in one color, lowercase letters in another. You can turn this into an alphabet game or challenge kids to use the stones to build words.
- Make story stones-This is a wonderful one for Indian Education for All, you can have the students paint Native American symbols on the rocks and then use them to tell a story. You can also have them create nature-themed images such as animals, flowers (maybe your state flower), insects and the elements.
- Create your own nature ABC book-Go on a nature hunt with your little one – around your school yard, neighborhood, backyard, park, garden, local zoo or aquarium. Look for something to represent each letter of the alphabet. Then take a picture of that image. Print out the photos and place them in a dedicated album to form their own ABC book. Add letters, words and other facts as desired. You can get more detailed with this the older this children are.
- Use nature for letter making-Kids just learning their letters will have fun shaping letters using items found in nature such as rocks, sticks or flower petals.
- Go on a scavenger hunt-Have your students follow a pre-written list of items to find. Once they find the item, they could give some information about where they found the item, why the item may be at the location they found it.
- Keep a nature journal-This is a notebook filled with writing the kids want to include about their outdoor adventures. The things that they saw, smelled, heard, touched.
- Discover field guides-Have your child select at least three animal/insects that can be seen around their home or around the school. Have them create a page for each one including an illustration and a short paragraph on that animal/ insect. These can be shared in the class or create a class field guide book.
With spring in the air and the school year winding down, this is an opportune time to get kiddos outdoors and learning! Enjoy and don’t forget the sunscreen!