When asking parents how they plan to keep their children’s skills sharp over the summer, most people mention practicing math and reading. Yes, these subjects are important and should be practiced almost every day to prevent summer learning loss. However, there are so many more opportunities for your child to learn and grow beyond paper-pencil activities, iPad apps, etc. There is a tool that is available to everyone, no matter where you are. Yes, I’m talking about good ol’ Mother Nature herself.
For a lot of students, outside learning is much more engaging than inside learning. As adults, we just have to find ways for our little ones to learn outside. Kids don’t need to read about plants, animal life, rocks, etc. in a science book, but rather learn from experience. Learning outside gives children an opportunity to explore the world around them with multiple senses. They can move around and interact with their surroundings. Engaging in new experiences make learning memorable and exciting!
One of my daughter’s favorite activities is finding items for a nature collection. She loves finding pinecones, different types of leaves, feathers, sparkly rocks, etc. Think about the different kind of learning that can take place with this! You can practice sorting, categorizing, ordering from big to small, counting, and much more. She loves to play games where I challenge her to find something heavier than a pinecone or longer than a leaf. The best part is, she doesn’t even realize she is learning! What a win-win all around!
The opportunities for math integration are endless when outside. Have your child look for bugs that are symmetrical. What a cool way to discuss symmetry! Kids can even practice drawing the insect and ensure that each half is symmetrical. Sidewalk child is also a fun way to practice math facts (which may less than exciting for some). Help your child create “Fact Family Flowers”. In the middle, write the three numbers for the fact family and have your child write the four facts in the petals.
What about art? Absolutely! Art can definitely take place outside in nature. Have your child create a tree trunk with different twigs, branches, bark, and moss, grass, etc. for the ground it sits on. This can all be glued onto a piece of cardboard. This is a great way for your child to learn new vocabulary terms and display their creativity.
Learning can take place anywhere at any time! This allows your child to learn with different learning styles as well. When we make learning fun, it is not easily forgotten.