Outdoor Education for Non-Outdoorsy Teachers

kids drawing pictures outside

There are many reasons why people may not embrace the outdoors. Perhaps you have had uncomfortable experiences that prevent you from getting outside. Or maybe it’s because you haven’t had any experience with getting outdoors and are not sure where to start. Maybe you just don’t identify as being outdoorsy and enjoy a more “indoorsy” life. Or perhaps your comfort zone is your classroom and you aren’t quite ready to stretch that yet. There are so many benefits to being outdoors both for yourself and your students. Why not take some time to get outside and see how you can thrive outside and cover your curriculum? Here are some tips for outdoor education for non-outdoorsy teachers to get started with taking learning outdoors. 

Keep Things Simple…Take Baby Steps​

You don’t need to plan an epic lesson or a month-long inquiry project, simply taking an existing activity or project outside. Moving a familiar activity outside can provide students with the mental and physical benefits of outdoor learning while still covering your curriculum. Why not take reading outside or perhaps find a writing activity that your students can take outdoors? Or perhaps try a new physical education activity outside. Keep the planning simple, the big idea is to get outdoors. If your students aren’t used to being outside they will need some time to ease into it as well. 

Try One Subject or Activity at a Time​

Reading outside was a hit, so now you are ready to try something more. If you aren’t used to being outside for a full afternoon, don’t try to push your own boundaries. Start slow with one activity or subject. This will keep your planning and materials manageable. You won’t be worried about managing all of the logistics of multiple activities and learning objectives. Once you find your groove you can start to grow your outdoor program and offerings. Visit here for tips on taking your curriculum outdoors! 

kids running outside

Take the Easy Road- Find Ready-Made Resources​

There are tons of ready-made resources available on sites such as TeachersPayTeachers that just require printing and maybe a staple or two. These resources have been planned and tested by teachers who have experience getting their kids outside. They take away a lot of the planning and allow you to spend more time just enjoying being outside. 

Be Prepared and Comfortable​

Take the time to prepare yourself for outdoor learning. Know the weather and plan your clothing accordingly. If you are too cold or too hot you will not enjoy your time outdoors. This might be a good time to start looking at building your outdoor wardrobe. Here are some tips for dressing for the weather in both warm weather and cold weather. Not only will dressing for the weather keep you comfortable, but it will also set a good example for your students on how to be prepared for the weather. You may also prepare a teacher bag for your outdoor learning activities that includes both safety items as well as comfort items for yourself.

Look For Local Experts or Programs​

There are many programs that help teachers get their students outdoors. You don’t need to dive into outdoor learning on your own. Look for opportunities such as outdoor field trips or experts that can help you take learning outdoors. Some programs will even tailor their offerings to meet your curriculum. 

kids laying in a circle on the grass outside

Keep It Fun​

Make outdoor time something that your kids look forward to. If both you and your students enjoy being outdoors you will be more likely to get outside. Don’t stress too much about doing everything perfectly, simply just make some time for getting outside and getting some fresh air. 

Don’t Worry About Being the Expert…​

You and your students are learning together. You don’t need to know the name of every plant and animal in your area. Learn and explore alongside your students. In outdoor learning, nature is your teacher. There is so much to learn from being outdoors.

Be a Good Role Model​

Your students will be looking to you for clues. If you are complaining about the weather they will start to complain about it as well. Model a positive attitude about being outdoors, they will pick up on that too. If you don’t come dressed for the weather, neither will your students. Think about the image that you are portraying and how you want your students to behave and treat nature. 

kids reading outside

Don’t be Scared, Take the Leap and Get Outside…​

Outdoor education doesn’t need to be complicated. There are many outdoor ideas that even non-outdoorsy teachers can use to get outside. Simply spending time in nature brings so many physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional health benefits to both you and your students. Your students will love the opportunity to learn in a different environment and be able to learn from nature. 

Keep Reading…

Get Outside With Your Students All Year…

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