As a new school year unfolds, help students quickly see that outdoor learning is going to be incorporated into your teaching this year. Remember that the school grounds can be used in two ways:
- As a content source to provide concrete examples of abstract concepts (e.g. finding parallel lines in nature, or generating prompts for creative writing ), or
- As a venue for instruction—simply a different setting for a class discussion, a shared story, etc.
To facilitate outdoor teaching, be sure to focus on establishing a teaching/meeting area near the school. The meeting area becomes the hub, or home base for explaining an activity, distributing materials, sharing findings, etc. It is an excellent spot to start and end an outdoor activity. By always starting from the same place, students quickly realize that this is an extension of the indoor classroom—structure is provided, attention is focused and a recess mindset is averted.
Some type of seating is helpful. An earlier post on this blog (“Where Do I Sit?”) described the use of logs or cable spools for no cost seating. Simple benches, like those shown below are very low cost and also serve the purpose of establishing a meeting space. Some type of seating provides a way for students to sit and stay dry even if there is heavy morning dew on the ground.
But fixed seating is not essential. The important thing is that you regularly go to the same location to either preview or begin the outdoor activity. Many teachers use portable seating such as donated stadium cushions, or even sit—upons that are as simple as plastic zip storage bags stuffed with paper or rags. Gallon size bags work well, but many manufacturers now make larger size bags to fit most any posterior!
Buckets also work well for portable seating. In addition, they can provide a handy way to carry materials needed for an outdoor activity. Like stadium cushions and storage bags, buckets are easily stacked and stored. Portability makes it possible for students to carry the seat with them as they work on activities that may be away from the teaching meeting area.
Take a look outside and choose a teaching/meeting area. If you already have a teaching/meeting space, think about adding some portable seating for flexibility.
Buckets for sitting or storage
Copyright © 2014 by Herb Broda