What To Take To Be Prepared for Outdoor Education

Being prepared for your outdoor education classes is key to having things run smoothly. Having what you need with you during outdoor education can help to navigate classroom management in the outdoors as well as ensure that you are prepared in case of an emergency. No matter what class I am teaching, I like to have a backpack that is filled with everything I need to take kids outside. This bag is packed with both safety and comfort items and is ready to go all the time. This little bit of preparedness helps to prevent the extra trips back into the school that can both throw a lesson off as well as waste your valuable outdoor learning time. You can also find a list of what to take to be prepared for outdoor education in our Get Outside Tool Kit.

Please note that what you take with you will depend on your season, climate, and activities. This is just what I take with me for general outdoor education in spaces close to the school. If you are planning a more adventurous activity or are heading further away from your school you will need to adjust what you bring.

Here is What is in my Teacher Bag (Backpack) for Outdoor Education:

1. My phone:

(Actually, I keep this in my pocket so that I can feel it vibrate if I get a text/call.) Our admin assistant has my number ready in case of an emergency or information needs to be passed on to me. I can also use it to get help quickly in the case of an accident or emergency outside. It is also ready so that I can take photos and document learning.

I also carry a portable charger with me as I find that during the winter months my phone will run out of battery quite quickly.

2. A Fox40 whistle:

I use a whistle as a way of getting student’s attention. This is especially important if students are spread out all over the place. I find the sound of the whistle is super irritating, but it travels far, especially on a windy day.

We have a set of whistle signals to mean different things. For example, one whistle blast means come back to the meeting spot. Three whistle blasts repeated frequently mean it’s an emergency and to come back to the meeting space ASAP. It is important that the students know what each whistle blast means so that there is not confusion. At the beginning of the year we will often do practice runs with using the different whistle blasts.

3. A small first aid kit:

This has things like bandaids for minor emergencies, as well as gloves and a pocket mask. You can check out what is in our outdoor ed first aid kit here.

4. Kleenix:

I carry a small package of kleenix, there is always that kid that always needs a kleenix!

5. Extra Sunscreen:

I have a super child-safe sunscreen that I carry just in case. With younger kids I always ask that the kids come prepared with sunscreen already on.

6. Bug Spray:

Again I have a “family” version of the bug spray that I bring with me. I always put this in a sealed bag just in case it leaks. 

7. An extra pair of mitts:

There is nothing worse than having cold fingers. I carry an extra pair of mitts to lend to a student in case of cold fingers.

8. A pencil case with extra pencils, erasers, and sharpeners:

You would be surprised at how quickly kids can lose these things outside.

9. A list of your students and family contact information 

This is to be used in case of an emergency. I have never had to use it while outside, but in case there is a need to evacuate, you have it with you. A template for collecting vital family information is available in our “Get Outside Tool Kit.”

My Own Personal Items For Comfort and Warmth:​

1. Water bottle:

It’s important to stay hydrated, especially when it is hot out. I tell the students if they want to bring their own water bottles they are in charge of them.

2. An extra jacket/sweater:

Just in case it gets chilly.

3. My own extra mitts:

I get really cold fingers really fast so I always have extra mitts with me.

4. My coffee!!!!:

I have a fantastic hydroflask coffee mug that stays sealed perfectly and keeps my coffee nice and hot.

Lady walking in the woods with a backpack

Set a Good Example…​

In addition to being prepared with my backpack, I also like to ensure that I am doing my best to set a good example for the students in terms of dressing for the weather. I make sure that I am wearing proper footwear for whatever activity we are doing. I also try to model how best to dress for each weather situation and sometimes even talk about why I made particular clothing choices for that day. It makes outdoor learning more enjoyable if you are comfortable and ready to learn. 

Now It’s Time to Get Outside!​

Being prepared for your outdoor learning adventures can give you a sense of safety and confidence in taking your learning outdoors. In addition to being prepared with your teacher backpack, you also need to be aware of other safety factors, such as weather, site hazards, or animals that may be in your area. In your area, your safety essentials may vary and include items such as bear spray, insect repellent, or specialized first aid items. 

Keep Reading…

Get Outside With Your Students All Year…

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