Spring is waking up, and I took my little monkeys outside to meet her for themselves as we begin our inquiry unit: Sharing the Planet. Spring is simply the perfect time for them to go out and see the changes that are happening.
We do not need to go far as nature is just all around us which is a real blessing. There are the few green spots in the school compound, and of course, the forest is just over the fence. JKs (Junior Kindergarteners) are able to see plants sprouting, bees buzzing around the sweet small apple tree behind the auditorium, and ants of different sizes moving in and out of the soil. No better way to teach them about nature than being outside!
The thing is, we don’t only go out when we are doing this unit. We do it all the time, and the kids simply love it.
Taking kids outside is the perfect way for me to see what their interests are, what they are curious about and what kind of play they engage with. This is my starting point when I begin a new unit, and I prepare my lessons based on these observations. It is amazing to see the difference in their creativity level outside compared to when they are inside. It is as if their mind opens wider as soon as they put their little feet outdoors.
Some may fear that it’d be too chaotic to take students outside. But, much to the contrary, when the children are outside, Nature plays her magic and the kids are spellbound. We hardly have to remind them about the rules because they naturally know what they are capable of doing and not doing. They know their own limits. Needless to say, they keep moving their bodies, which we all know is very good for their brain. We know that as educators, that is… right?
So… why don’t we spent much time outdoors with our students? Is outdoor education just a “little kids” thing? I’d argue staunchly no.
Pushing the swing, pulling the car toys, carrying the pots from one place to another in the sandbox; some people will see it as ‘just playing’, but working with little kids have allowed me to broaden my view and see “play” as a great learning opportunity. While engaging in play, the kids learn about motion, gravity, distance… surely these are relevant to science classes of older kids.
Going on nature walks provide children with more opportunities to learn about literacy and numeracy. How? Comparing the height of the trees, measuring the steps between a log and a bush, contemplating which way will be better for them to climb up or down a hill. Hearing the birds, touching grass, smelling the rocks, trees and leaves, observing the changing colours, all of which are only possible in nature. Being out in the forest is a great opportunity to awaken their senses. Symmetry, poetry, biology, chemistry… the list goes on and on. You can see them out there in Nature.
Let’s wake up with Spring. Let’s see what she’s got to offer us, and if she can win you over, how about try it out with your students? JKs can join you to help you out as guides, if you’d like? They’d be thrilled to introduce you to Spring and Nature and show you how cool they can be!