May 23, 2008

The Great Outdoors as a Classroom

This topic for this week's Heart of the Matter Online Meme is The Great Outdoors as a Classroom.

Before I began writing this post, the only "outdoor classroom" activities my unimaginative mind could think of were our Green Hour Challenges. However, once I began going through a few pictures, I realized that we have had several outdoor learning experiences.

Click on the thumbnail images if you would like to view larger pictures.

Rob'sWe viewed the lunar eclipse together in February; it was absolutely breathtaking and well worth tolerating the freezing temperatures outside.

I finally bought the boys Backyard Ballistics, and they made a paper match rocket and attempted to set it off outside. Unfortunately (did I say that?), it was too cold to light it.

the leaves are inFor our more recent earthworm study, we collected different types of dirt, layered it in a plastic pop bottle, and added some leaves and worms so that we could observe soil mixing in action. That project is still on my kitchen counter (covered with a towel, of course; the worms like it dark). It apparently takes some time for the worms to mix all of the soil up.

the ends are pinnedWe set up an "outdoor classroom" for our very first dissection - right in our driveway. The kids begged me not to do it in the kitchen. :-) I set up a couple of tables and taped dissection diagrams to them so the kids could use them as guides. It was quite an interesting experience; we will be dissecting grasshoppers next.

The girls love to do their schoolwork outside when the weather permits. They have a little area on the side of the house set up with chairs, a couple of outdoor decorations, and even a birdhfeeder-turned-mailbox that they use to exchange notes and drawings with some neighborhood friends.

Gardening is full of potential learning experiences. We sometimes will discuss the history of a plant, or even plant something after reading about its history. Math is important for planning our garden beds and properly spacing plants. Gardening is a natural way of incorporating life science or nature study into the curriculum. One of the best aspects of gardening is that the lessons do not necessarily have to be planned or contrived; they happen naturally in the actual process of planning and caring for the garden. I wrote a post listing quite a few gardening links last month in anticipation of the upcoming gardening season; we are now awaiting some consistently warm weather to begin planting.

IMG_3104We have also gone outside to do math activites. Once we had a contest to see who could draw the most lines on a square of sidewalk with chalk; then we did some related activities from a book by Marilyn Burns. We studied a sunflower to try to identify the Fibonacci pattern last summer, one of the most amazing instances of God's orderly and artistic Hand in nature, in my opinion.

We often do our read-alouds on the front porch in the spring and fall, when it is just too beautiful outside to be indoors.

I love being outdoors just to marvel at the majesty of our Creator. There are so many lessons to be learned, and seeing His hand in nature never ceases to fill me with awe.

The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein. For He has founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the waters. Psalm 24:1-2

If you wold like to participate in this week's HOTM meme, go here; I'm looking forward to reading everyone's posts.

HomeschoolBlogger Comments
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May. 23, 2008 - lovely!

Posted by JamieLee

Great verse to add in! The outdoors really is the best classroom ever - after all, God made it!

Thanks for sharing.

May. 23, 2008 - Untitled Comment

Posted by CranialHiccups

I've been eyeing Backyard Ballistics for a while now. Thanks for your list of ideas for different nature studies!

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