Outdoor learning – why and how do I start?
We love going out with the kids, everyone is calmer, curious and open for small and big adventures. Going outside always relaxes us, makes us happy, and inspired.
We go and find a lovely place to stop and let ourselves enjoy “being”, at least for a while :).
On one of these stops, we offered the children to write their name using sticks of an oak tree, they got really excited! They began searching for all sorts of things in the area with which they could write their names: stones, acorns, leaves (that was hard because they flew all the time), and more…
Seeing their enthusiasm, we offered them to write other things, such as wood and stone. Then they wrote STICK from sticks and a BRANCH of branches, which opened a wonderful conversation about synonyms.
This experience made us wonder, how could a simple exercise become so interesting in the outdoors? how could a letter shape become so memorable?
Back home, we started exploring and learning about outdoor learning. And discovered a whole world of global organizations, research, and even the Wikipedia article. We where amazed to realize outdoor learning does this (and so much more):
- Better more engaging students
- Motivation and a self-belief
- Higher recall rate
- Boosts children development
- Better behavior
- Develop communication skills
- Reduce pressure
- Better health and well-being
- Care for the environment
- Care about the community
We felt that as though a door opened to us, or rather we were given new glasses, through which to see the familiar world outside in a new way. We started to play and experiment with outdoor learning in our homes and with schools. Soon we realized this kind of learning opens a world of opportunities to the kids as well as the parents and teachers.
Going back to the writing activity, described above, which soon got the name: “Word particles”, children from different ages got creative: writing MOSS from Moss, MUD from mud, and so many other words and materials we didn’t think of nor noticed before this activity. Playing around with materials the kids befriended with the letters shape, getting to know them through different senses and having to find a way to construct them from forgiving and less flexible materials. This method disabled the usual accuracy criteria of how each letter “should” look, opening the children to explore what is essential in the letter’s shape to make it readable.
When offering this activity to younger kids we suggested them to write their names or even just its first letter. Sometimes, we showed them how to write from one material and asked to copy with another.
This experience led to so many others. Time after time we saw out this type of learning suits us – simple, free, accessible, fun and very effective, outdoor with the kids we are still amazed when a few sticks and stones create an ahh moment.
So what are you waiting for? Go out, try and find out for yourself.