Class outside and learn while exploring the neighborhood

The Scandinavian concept of "forest schooling" is gaining momentum and more and more followers of the outside class, especially with the current health situation. A simple walk in the neighborhood can be a source of multiple learning in addition to oxygenating the brain. We present you activities to do with the students. (part 1: French and math!)

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A simple walk in the neighborhood can be a source of many learnings for young people, in addition to oxygenating the brain. Discovering your environment and nature outside of the classroom is a real open-air laboratory!

The Scandinavian concept of " forest schooling Is gaining momentum and more and more followers since the advantages of teaching outside are numerous. Although many institutions schedule outdoor periods and provide comfortable gathering spaces on school grounds, we are not teaching outside all the time. However, planning regular outings can already reap many of the benefits of teaching outdoors. 

In this sense, the company Forest School Training identified, in one study, an increase or improvement in:

  • personal esteem and self-confidence;
  • social skills;
  • language and communication skills;
  • motor skills and physical skills;
  • motivation and focus;
  • knowledge and understanding of the environment.

You can certainly say that when you love something, you take care of it. Introducing children to the pleasures and magnificence of nature could have a positive impact on the environmental choices of these little citizens who will grow up. This way of learning is entirely in accordance with the training program of the Quebec school, which asks that children be awakened to the environment.

We have an interest in developing digital skills at several levels by going outside. It is therefore very practical to bring one or more devices with you depending on the activities. For example, you can take photos, collect data, get information quickly by answering a question in the field, film sequences to share with another group, etc.

Ideas for activities

The particular health situation in recent months requires children to stay in the same room all day long: it may become necessary to breathe a little in the fresh air. This is the opportunity to try the teaching experience outside. Here are some suggestions for activities to do around the school, either in the yard, the park, the wooded area, the alley, the sidewalks in the neighborhood, etc. It can also be near home in case of distance education. 

Here are some examples of activities for French and maths today. Other subjects will be discussed in a second article.

French

Word Classes 

Learning what a verb is by running, jumping, waving is much more concrete for children. It is also relevant to ask them to observe a tree, a flower, a building, a car and to give three qualities or faults which will often be adjectives, which also accompany nouns! We can go further and use the words found outside to write sentences, a story or to build a word bank.

Haiku writing 

A beautiful walk in the snow punctuated by stops where we read haikus associated with trees, the sky, can inspire children to write them in turn. By asking them to spot an element of their environment, to look at it with different intentions (if you are a bird, if you are a grandpa, if you are an ant ...), these observations will generate ideas for creating a rich haiku and colorful. 

Reading posters or signs

It is not necessary to have a forest in the neighborhood for the outing to be relevant. In a more urban environment, for example, carrying out a “search and find” of commercial or municipal buildings by reading the posters can allow great discoveries. “Write the names of: 3 dental clinics on Saint-Laurent Street, 2 schools, 5 clothing stores, 1 fire station…” The vocation of the buildings makes a beautiful link with the social world.

Mathematics

Ranking

When bringing hoops to the park, it is interesting to have children collect objects from the environment and drop them in a hoop. These objects have similar mathematical properties (size, length, shape, kind of line…). Children can also be asked to classify them, to find a strategy for counting them, etc.

Shapes and solids

Ask the children to spot objects, elements of the environment that are triangular. They photograph these elements and they create groups of triangles, which they will classify into scalene triangles, straight and acute. It is also possible to find solids in the environment and to photograph the different faces by imagining those which are not visible.

Numbers in social context

Observing house addresses can lead to heated discussions. You may notice that on one side of the street, the addresses always end with 0, 2, 4, 6 or 8. Interrogate the children by asking them if it is the same for the addresses of the other streets. Mathematical vocabulary will be very useful during discussions; odd and even numbers, increasing, decreasing… We can also use the spatial references (left, right) and the cardinal points.

Distance measurements

Obviously, these outings are an opportunity to measure different lengths: the ant in millimeters, the soccer field in meters, the distance between the park and the school in kilometers, etc. You can also use tools like Google Maps to determine walking distances.

To be continued tomorrow!

To start your outdoor class, consult the Carrefour Éducation guide The outdoor classroom in response to COVID-19.

In addition:

A file of One Hundred Degrees, produced in collaboration with the Monique Ftiz-Back Foundation which presents a series of articles on pedagogy in an outdoor context.

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