Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Outdoor learning

We love to be outside. Don't all kids? The ability to be outside and explore is one of the things that kids in our society are missing more than almost anything. Schools have cut recess to such a small amount of time, some schools have cut recess altogether.

Learning is so easy when you are outside. There is so much to see and it all changes with the weather and the seasons. Getting a few guide books can add to the amount you can learn about, there are birds, animals, plants, bugs, geological formations, and weather which can all be discussed no matter where you are.

One of our favorite learning activities now is our weekly hike with the home school group. We rotate around the many different trailheads in our area. Each one has something different to offer and there is a lot to learn no matter where we go. The kids love to collect stuff. Today I actually made a very crude list of things they could try to collect while we were out. They really liked having things to find and they had their own bags (cheapy back pack things we got as gifts from our timeshare) to put their treasures in. Today they collected many rocks, some prarie grass, a large bird feather and dirt. They also held what was either a centipede or milipede captive for awhile, but eventually they let it go back on the trail since it really wasn't happy being held by them!

Our weekly hikes are also a great time for them to learn cooporatively. In a group they learn how to take turns, share, explain, be in charge, be a follower, etc...... We are very lucky that we have an awesome group to hang with and the kids do a wonderful job of taking turns leading and following and they are all very creative coming up with new things to do and new storylines to follow all the time. Today we were the last ones on the trail with one other family and Gracie and their daughter were having an awesome time at the picnic shelter going in and out pretending they were fire rescue people. They were saving all sorts of things like people and toilet paper!! It was so fun. Then a small plastic bucket the other family had became a pot and they started collecting stuff and putting it in to make soup. The story line moved and changed and they played so well together, it was just awesome.

I am really looking forward to spending hours and hours of our learning time outside as the kids get older. I'm not sure we can ask for a better teacher than Mother Nature herself.

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