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MAY 6, 2019

10 Ways to Take Your Learning Outdoors


Arguably, one of the very best aspects of homeschooling is the flexibility it allows.  As the weather warms, we love heading outside with our homeschool supplies for some fresh air!  It doesn’t even feel like school when we’re playing outside, and yet, the kiddos are still learning.  Isn’t that just the best feeling? The best way to spend the first days of summer. If you’re anticipating outside adventures during the day, but you still want to take advantage of quality learning time, we have a few great ideas for you.  Even if you don’t have your own yard, you could probably do most of these at a local park!

At the end of the day, even if you aren’t heading outside with a specific adventure in mind, you can still homeschool outdoors.  If your curriculum is online, hook your kids up to a laptop with WiFi and head out to the patio table or swing. Studying from textbooks?  Same deal. There’s hardly anything about homeschooling that requires staying within the walls of your home, and that’s definitely one of the reasons we adore it so much.

Fun Outdoor Learning Ideas  

  • Science Projects

Science projects are one of the fun and exciting aspects of homeschooling.  A lot of projects are inexpensive and utilize typical household items, which make them easy and fun to put together.  However, sometimes they can get a little messy. The warmer weather gives the perfect chance to take your science projects outdoors!  The cleanup is reduced and you’ll likely enjoy the fun even more!

  • Read Aloud Picnic

Reading aloud to your kids create some of the most precious memories.  In fact, reading a book outdoors is one of the first activities that spring to my mind every year as the weather warms.  Gather your kids outside on the porch swing, the hammock, the patio table, or even a picnic blanket. It’s especially fun to make a picnic lunch and spread out a blanket to eat, read, and soak up the sunshine.  You could just as easily take the book and picnic to a local park!

  • Get Some Physical Education

Winter often makes it difficult to keep up with exercise.  After a few cold months of indoor insanity, it can be particularly freeing to take an outdoor exercise session.  Head to a nice, nearby hiking trail, a local park, or even a large field. You can play tag, run laps, timed races, catch, frisbee, and so on. Call it P.E., track and field, or merely exercise, but have fun and get your pulse racing.

  • Nature Walk

Nature walks are a great way to explore and get some fresh air.  They are wonderful for paying attention to the little things, slowing down, and listening, looking, searching.  They are all about disconnecting from schedules and the busyness of life and watching nature at work. Take a camera along, photograph the critters and plants.  Sketch the intriguing animal or plant life you discover. Sit for a bit and write in a journal. Compare animals to illustrations in nature guides. Save leaves to press between the pages of their journals.  On a certain level, kids can begin learning about both botany and biology with nature walks.

  • Arts & Crafts

While art class is undoubtedly a fun aspect of homeschooling, the mess can be a little intimidating sometimes.  If you sometimes find yourself avoiding crafts or artwork because of the mess, consider taking it outdoors! Once outside, your kids can watercolor, glue, and toss on the sparkles to their hearts’ content.  If you’ve saved any messy art ideas for future reference, this would be a great time to try them out! Feeling up for extra fun? Have your kids try their hands at impressionist paintings by setting up a panel on an easel and flicking paint at the canvas!

  • Gardening

Children can learn a lot more from gardening than we often realize.  It’s a great opportunity to explore the life cycle of seeds to plants and to watch it in action.  It’s such an exciting experience for kids to plant seeds, care for them, and watch them grow. Gardening could also serve well as a supplement to a botany unit study!

  • Insect Study

Do your kids find insects unnervingly fascinating?  Even if bugs make you cringe, that wonder and fascination are definitely worth encouraging.  An insect study could be a great way to take your learning outdoors! With a magnifying glass, a camera, and a field guide, an entire world opens to your kids.  Insect studies are also a good time to explore which insects are potentially dangerous.

  • Survival Skills: Learn How to Build & Maintain a Fire

It’s important to learn basic survival skills, and it’s usually a topic that kids enjoy!  Building a fire can sound somewhat dangerous, but it’s a valuable skill. If your kids are old enough and it’s legal and safe in your area, use your time outdoors to demonstrate how to build a fire and keep it going.  From personal experience, I know it’s a lot harder than it sounds!

  • Build A Birdhouse

Most kids want to build a birdhouse or feeder at some point, and it’s easy to see why.  It’s fun to see the birds flock to your personal creation and choose to enjoy it, even for a moment.  Birdhouses are also great for letting your kids get creative with paint and decorate as they choose. Additionally, building a birdhouse is a chance to begin teaching your kids basic construction skills, such as measuring, hammering, understanding instructions, and so on.

  • Collect Tadpoles

What kid doesn’t want to collect tadpoles?  Even though you can purchase a tadpole kit online, if you have access to local ponds, try catching them yourselves!  It’s immensely more fun that way, and a memory your kids are sure to remember. You can scoop them from the pond with a jar, and make sure to keep them in the pond water for their own well-being.  Don’t cover the jar, and make sure to keep them out of direct sunlight. Feel free to add a leaf to the water for natural shade as well. You can care for them by feeding them lettuce and cucumber.  Keep a journal for your kids to record their findings as the tadpoles grow!

Resources for Homeschooling Outdoors

Even if you’re not quite sure which direction you want to take yet for your outdoor adventures, but you have a few ideas floating around in your head, here are ten resources to get you started!  Most of these are fairly inexpensive and conveniently available on Amazon. Take a moment, assess what you might need, and enjoy the fresh air!

Courtney Newman

Courtney Newman is a homeschool graduate and a freelance writer. She is currently pursuing her English degree through Pima Community College. Her favorite hobbies include reading, writing, and spending time with her husband and pets.