Looking to teach your child at home during COVID-19?
Looking to teach your child at home during COVID-19?
Here are 7 outdoor lessons to help inspire your teachings.
Creating your Outdoor "Classroom" is about creativity, inspiration and exploration. The end goal is more time outdoors every day while staying at home during COVID-19.
There’s no need to wait to take learning outdoors. You can start now with these seven great lesson plans suitable for children of different ages. Try them, share them, adapt them - and prepare to be amazed!
1. Mirror Mirror
This lesson explores position and movement, a fundamental part of the mathematics curriculum throughout all key stages. Gather natural objects and look at using rotation and symmetry to create natural artwork. Use the work of Andy Goldsworthy to inspire your creations! Click here for the PDF explaining all the optoins!
2. Make an Outdoor Museum
Turn your grounds into an outdoor museum and bring history to life! Learn about the history of play, think about how toys and games have changed over time. Look at the toys you played with when you were young and compare that to toys children have access to nowadays. Ask the children to research what their parents and grandparents played with. Great for a history lesson. Click here for a detailed lesson plan.
3. Scaling & Ratios
Mathematical concepts are often easier for children to process when they’re outdoors, especially for kinesthetic learners. This activity teaches children about ratios and requires collaboration. Children work together to construct a scale model of a member of their group. This activity can be further extended by asking children to collect twigs of a variety of sizes before the activity begins.
- 20+ twigs, from 2-20cm long
- Flowers or other small, natural elements for making faces for the stick figures.
- Divide pupils into groups of about five.
- One pupil from each group must take one of the twigs.
- Now each group must use the remaining twigs to create a model (stick figure) of the group member who took the single twig. The single twig represents that group member’s little finger.
- Pupils create the model on the ground and must decide on the proportions of their model. When each group has finished, they must guess the scales used by the other groups.
- If the pupil’s little finger is 4 cm, with a twig that is 2 cm, the scale will be 1:2. With a twig that is 20 cm, the scale will be 5:1.
4. Pyramid Patterns
This activity, aimed at primary-aged children uses natural objects to investigate the mathematical concepts of patterns, probability and chance. It is interactive, challenging and surprisingly absorbing!
Creating rules to follow in maths provides investigations which can be surprisingly absorbing. In this blog post, aimed at primary-aged children, we begin with ensuring we have three piles of objects. Outside this is easy to gather and can be part of the initial work: with a partner can you gather 20 of each of the following objects: cones, rocks and pine needles. Naturally what your class uses depends upon the materials available. If you are in a concrete jungle, it is worth building up collections of different natural materials for use outside.
Once you have your piles of objects, lay out a sequence of five objects. It does not have to be a pattern unless a child desires this.
Now the cognitive challenge begins. It’s worth demonstrating the building of a pyramid to children and to see if they can work out what you are doing. Here is the second level of the pyramid, I am creating…
And there’s the third level….
And the fourth and fifth levels (I’ve laid this out on a handy wooden decking so you can see the levels of the pyramid)…
The rules I am using are:
- If I have 2 similar objects beside each other, then I must put the same object on the next level. Thus in the photo above, you can see 2 cones beside each other at the base of the pattern and so I have put a cone above these on the next level.
- If two different objects beside each other, then I must put the missing object on the next level. In the above photo, there is a cone and a rock beside each other, so I must put a pine needle on the next level.
It takes a moment or two to fathom this out. Once a child gets the pattern, they can explain it to those who don’t and help them.
Then the fun begins. Ask the children to come up with questions that require investigating, such as:
- Can you create a pattern where you can guarantee which object will be at the top of the pyramid
- Does it matter how many levels your pyramid has?
- Can you change the rules in other ways? For example, what happens if you add in more than three types of natural objects? Would this investigation work, if you substituted quantities of objects rather than types?
From here, encourage the children to look at their maths curriculum and identify which aspects of learning this activity covers. It’s easy to assume it’s all about patterns… but I like the probability, chance, and uncertainty discussions which arise from this challenge.
5. Plants and Weather
A great lesson for winter and spring as we start to see plant growth. What signs of spring can the children find? Ask the children to write a poem about the weed, encouraging nature literacy. A great foundation for a longer project, you can monitor the plants’ growth weekly. How are the plants affected by different weather patterns? Easily adapted for different learning needs, explore the many possibilities of this lesson plan!
6. Build a Cairn (stack of stones)
The Construct a Mini Cairn activity is both art, physics and mental work! It is loved by yoga teachers and children alike. For young children, it’s a very good exercise for fine motor skills.
An inspiration which can take one lesson or inspire a longer project. All your child needs is a pile of pebbles and a steady hand!
This activity is simple, fun and can be done by anyone! Parents, why not try to see who can stack the most?
7. Line Graphs
This activity is great for helping primary-aged children to visualise graphs. Construct a giant graph using rope and number each axis with natural materials. The numbers can be measured out by the children using paces. Use the graph to explore interesting nature-based observations!
- Two ropes, numbers from one to ten on cards (preferably laminated to reuse them)
- Bean bags or stones to weight cards down,
- 20 twigs and people
Anywhere approx 5m squared.
Primary students often struggle with drawing graphs and this method seems to help them to visualise what a graph should look like. A simple investigation can be considered looking at leaves and predicting whether the longer the leaf, the wider it will be. Get them to measure the width and length of one leaf each (same plant though). Construct a graph on the ground with ropes, and add twigs and numbers at equal distance along each axis - measured with one person’s paces. Keep referring to how this would look on a graph on a piece of paper. It is good practice to also add the axes’ titles, and the graph title. Get them to stand at the point on the graph that represents their leaf. Do one demonstration first. Get them to consider whether there is a relationship. If they can’t see it whilst in the graph, let individuals come to the base of the graph to look at it.
We hope you enjoy these lesson plans. Feel free to share this article with your friends or family with kids for inspiration.
Original article seen on countrysideclassroom.org