Connecting the educational world to your classroom

Take it Outside


Temps are cooling and fall foliage is starting to appear. It’s a great time to send your students outdoors. Along with the fresh air, there are several benefits to spending time outside. Studies show it reduces childhood obesity, decreases aggression, boosts creativity and improves classroom performance.

Children today spend about half as much time outside as their parents did. Busy schedules, academic demands and technology are often to blame. Here are a few suggestions for incorporating outdoor time into the school day:

Use technology. Most middle and high schoolers are hooked on their phones, so use that to their advantage. Ask them to create a video nature journal on their phone or tablet. Entries can be assigned on a weekly or monthly basis to establish ongoing outdoor time.

Plant a classroom garden. Planting a garden helps build important life skills. It requires planning, preparation, physical labor, maintenance and patience. Gardening also reduces stress, and the teamwork will improve social skills and communication.

Create art out of nature. Head outside with your younger students for art and craft time. Collect pinecones for decorating, pick flowers to press or use berry and plant juices as paint. Ask older students to create a wood carving or rock sculpture garden.

Take your students on a hike. If your school is located near a park or the woods, plan an educational hike. Have students bring a snack and small journal. Spend time discussing observations about their environment, and have them write down plant, tree and insect varieties they discover along the way.

Assign outdoor homework. This is an easy way to fit in some outdoor time. Have your students complete their homework assignments or study for quizzes outside. Ask parents to sign off so they understand that it’s a priority. Track their progress – you may find that subject recall and grades start to improve!