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Outdoor Learning for Reopening: Five tips for educators to bring learning outdoors

Evergreen shares ways to incorporate the outdoors for going back-to-school

Nature Play Evergreen Outdoor Kitchener Ontario
Top image caption: Evergreen's Nature Play initiative in Gzowski Park, Kitchener, ON

Published on August 07, 2020

Making more space for outdoor learning has increasingly become a topic of conversation, as educators across Canada prepare for students returning to school in the fall. Rethinking the schoolground as an extension of the classroom allows physical distancing to happen more naturally, and is a powerful approach to build creative, analytic, social and physical skills – all tied to the curriculum.

Evergreen’s work in outdoor learning spans across the country, building climate ready schoolgrounds for play and learning, educating teachers through professional development workshops, and putting ideas into action with children’s programs at Evergreen Brick Works.

Here are field-tested ways that Evergreen’s staff inspire educators to bring meaningful learning outside.

Outdoor Education Tip #1

Let the sparrows teach your music lesson. Let the bees teach biology.

Plan to utilize nature in ways that fit right in to your lesson plans. This not only brings the class outside, but helps understand school subjects beyond textbooks and online modules. Try it out with this craft for feathered friends.

Outdoor Education Tip #2

What makes flowers bloom?

Use what your class sees around them to ask questions, brainstorm collectively and build problem solving skills. Questions can be a useful tool to encourage curiosity and help develop skills to discover answers independently.

Outdoor Education Tip #3

Sticks and stones instead of phones.

Collect natural materials for outdoor learning and play, we call this a Loose Parts Kit. This can be incorporated into multiple curriculum connections, because it encourages children to interact and experiment with their physical, analytic and creative abilities.

Outdoor Education Tip #4

“And then the possum and the beaver became best friends.”

Connect your English curriculum to the great outdoors by hosting creative writing and storytelling lessons in the schoolyard. Stories can be inspired by an object or living thing found outside, or imagining other critters in your local ecosystem.

Outdoor Education Tip #5

Today, my tree had a squirrel perched in it.

Start a tree journaling project that encourages students to regularly visit a tree of their choice in the schoolyard and track changes through the seasons. Journals can map out branch patterns, animal habitats, leaf shapes, and more.

Learn more with Evergreen's educational resources

Above resources selected from Evergreen's Nature Activities and Outdoor Education Tips.