One of the most readily available yet underutilised resources of parents today is the great outdoors, with many kids in Australia spending more time playing with electronic gadgets than out in nature. Given the convenience of online activity, this shouldn’t come as a surprise, yet now more than ever, teachers and parents are acknowledging the benefits of outdoor play, not just for physical development and social and emotional learning, but also for classroom achievement.
Involving Literacy In Nature
Perhaps surprisingly, introducing activities which stimulate children’s literacy skills is easier than one might intuitively assume, and can offer some pretty impressive benefits beyond what might be attained in the classic classroom setup. One way of doing this is by taking activities that typically require kids to use their reading, comprehension and written language skills, and putting a fun, nature-inspired spin on them. By incorporating outdoor themes in activities such as word puzzles, crosswords and quizzes, kids are encouraged to get their hands dirty exploring the exciting world of nature around them, whilst inadvertently practising the essential academic skills required to help them thrive in the classroom.
Designing An Engaging Nature Quiz
An exciting way of ensuring everyone is involved and engaged is to get the competitive juices flowing with a topic quiz. A few things to consider when designing a fun quiz are the ‘playground’ of choice (will your quizzers be in a residential back garden or at the beach?), their ages and their abilities. Do your research, and be sure that the questions on your quiz are tailored specifically to your environment of choice; this will make the quiz feel special, and also provide unique learning opportunities. Be sure to involve novel words specific to the environment, as well as questions that require deeper thought and comprehension. You could ask your explorers to source a local leaf or flower for example, and then ask them to consider why different climates might dictate what vegetation can be grown and where. A few of these thoughtful touches will really help add dimension and depth to the activity, while keeping everyone entertained.
Get The Kids Thinking Creatively
Incorporating literacy skills into outdoor activity doesn’t have to stop at reading and comprehension; you can get kids thinking creatively and practising their writing skills too. Encourage your explorers to make their own nature quizzes by jotting down all of their environmental discoveries and thinking of a few questions that they could quiz you on once finished. This is yet another simple but effective idea to encourage kids away from their gadgets and into the wonderful world of nature.
Using outdoor time as a learning opportunity will encourage your children to become active learners, and spark their innate curiosity and thirst for knowledge, helping them to broaden their horizons and question the world around them: skills they will need to become lifelong learners who are interested and engaged with the world around them.