Did you know that learning outside of the classroom may have direct benefits on indoor learning, as well? Students who learn in an outdoor classroom behaved better and retained more information when returning to an indoor setting. Taking your classroom outside can also help children develop self-confidence, communication skills, and a lifelong love and appreciation of nature.
With so many benefits associated with outdoor learning, you may be wondering how to take your classroom outdoors. Read on and learn how to make it happen!
1. Identify how you'll use the classroom outside
There are countless ways to utilize outdoor areas for learning. You just need to figure out how you’ll use the outdoor space near you. Is this going to be an extension of a classroom with seating, or is it an experiential learning environment?
You can use a nature trail to discuss environmental issues or a community garden to teach about the water cycle or plant life cycle. The key is to know what you want to accomplish when you are outside the classroom and reinforce the learning experience indoors.
An outdoor classroom may look different than a traditional room with desks and chairs, but one thing is the same — the importance of classroom rules. Post the rules for your outdoor learning area, so students know what's expected of them. Rules may include times of day when the outdoor classroom is available or how to enter and exit the outdoor classroom.
2. Plan the outdoor classroom curriculum and schedule
No matter how many students you serve, keeping a schedule when classes use the outdoor classroom is essential. A schedule ensures everyone has equal access to the outdoor learning environment. It also allows time to maintain and refresh the space between uses.
You can adapt your current curriculum for a classroom outdoors or create something wholly different that embraces the natural environment. Some schools take advantage of nearby trees or plants to teach science lessons, while others teach a traditional course of study. You can even include some outdoor educational games to make the lessons more fun!
Consider how to use technology in an outdoor learning area. Tablet computers are great tools for taking photos of bugs or leaves or writing notes about the day's lesson. If you are using tools like Google Classroom, you can sync all your lessons and student work in one place.
Check out a Google Classroom guide and other tips for using technology to enhance learning.
3. Get help from donors and volunteers
One of the biggest obstacles schools face when considering an outdoor classroom is resources. Creating an outdoor learning area requires time and materials that many schools do not have. Ask for help from parent volunteers to build your garden, walking trail, or outdoor class setting.
Local companies often donate time and materials to assist schools with projects like this. Reach out to parent-owned businesses or organizations that support you in other efforts.
Take learning outside!
When you take a classroom outside, you open new possibilities for students to learn and to appreciate nature. An outdoor classroom can enhance the overall learning experience and improve behavior and retention during indoor education. Plan your space carefully, know how people will use it, and utilize technology to help you schedule and program the space.
If you have questions about incorporating Sawyer Tools into your outdoor learning area, schedule a free demo of our tools today.