Getting Outside Tips

Getting Outside

Teachers Tips to Enjoy Teaching Outdoors

  1. Find a quiet corner of the school grounds under trees or adjacent to trees for all to sit and listen – what do you hear? What do you smell? What do you see?
  2. Take a walk — follow the wind, the clouds, stop at an interesting green space to explore.
  3. Explore a nearby nature area — a forest, beach, lake, old field, etc., and look for a relevant focus species.
  4. See what you can find together in a nearby park, can be a surprise.
  5. Have the students search and discover one colour in the forest or meadow, can be anything, surprising what you find.
  6. Take drawing materials outside and choose a nature theme for that day.
  7. Students take nature photos for an art project, science discussion contest with a story.
  8. Create a story telling opportunity about what in nature you see, hear and touch together, can be imaginative and taking turns to add to the story. Follow up with each student writing a story or poem.
  9. After visiting a wetland, pond or river, collect some water for a microscope invertebrate study, can develop this theme to look for fish, frogs, eggs, other species such as mussels or crayfish and keep data on the species. Please return the pond water when finished.
  10. Go birdwatching, some local naturalists’ clubs have binoculars for students to use, ask them to loan to your class, better yet, ask them to take your class out to learn how to use binoculars and go for a bird watching walk. Notate birds seen, students can collect sightings and do a survey on a regular basis.
  11. Go birdwatching but when sighting a bird, focus on the habitat and what the birds are doing there – feeding, preening, resting, hunting, etc. Keep a record and discuss bird behaviour.
  12. TreefestVisit an area with native plants, possibly collect bark or berries and do a project referring to First Nation and/or settler use of that plant.
  13. Remove invasive plants as a class project and discuss why this plant is considered invasive.
  14. See if the invasive plant is a good one to mash up, sieve and dry on a screen for paper making. Check out traditional papermaking in various cultures and what they used.
  15. Plan a class planting project for native plant species, research native plants for site conditions, make a list that will also provide wildlife habitat, set up a collaborative maintenance program.
  16. Consider sensory walks in the forest, a meadow or a public garden.
  17. Clean up a shoreline or forest trail and talk about the serious issue of littering. Have a class trip to a garbage dump and learn about municipal disposal. Study how we use plastics and research plastic waste in the environment and consequences to habitat and wildlife.
  18. Put up a nest box in the schoolyard or nearby natural area; students keep a journal of observations, can also learn to enter data to eBird,
  19. Put up an outdoor bird feeder, better yet, students build their own for the classroom window, students maintain and keep daily record of bird species at feeder. Students could become responsible for one species and be an ‘expert’. » Join Project Feeder Watch
  20. Encourage students to check out local Naturalists’ Clubs events such as beach cleanups, plantings and invasive removals to participate as volunteers, even better with their families. Encourage them to become members of their local club.
  • Local birds that students will likely see in their neighbourhood
  • Bats and their habitat especially if a forest nearby
  • Search for Pollinators and Insects – bees, dragonflies, butterflies, spiders, beetles, etc.
  • Freshwater / wetland discovery—water samples, microscope, invertebrate ID, etc
  • Other invertebrates such as snails, slugs etc., in the forest
  • Amphibians and/or reptiles if a pond and/or forest nearby
  • Marine intertidal discovery
  • Native plants found locally and their historical use
  • Mammals found locally—find tracks or trails and discuss habitat
  • Field guides of relevant species, purchase for the school library as an ongoing resource
  • Species checklists
  • If birding, bird calls of local birds: Neville Recording is a BC company,
  • Hands on, touch and feel samples
  • Prepare a resource kit of information, samples, field guides, stories, etc.—local naturalists clubs can help
  • Local naturalist clubs can provide speakers and field trip leaders

1- Cornell:

“The section on Education is conveniently divided into various sections including free K-12 lessons to help kids explore Nature and Science.”   

2- Project Wild:

“Click on ‘Resources’ then ‘Lessons and More’ to find downloadable lessons on a variety of subjects and also suggestions for class projects and field trips”.

3- Owl, Chickadee and Chirp Magazines for different ages—ask the library to subscribe:

“Click on Parents and Teachers to find downloadable guides for the 3 – 6, 6 – 9 and 9 – 13 age groups that are intended to engage students, inspire creative lessons and encourage learning across the entire curriculum.”

4- Sierra Club, Outdoor Classroom Day programs and resources app has over 100 activities:

5- BC Green Games, Science World:

“In addition to being a great location for school trips they also offer a number of courses and camps that allow kids to delve deeper into science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”

6- Stewards of the Future, Educator Tool Kit draft materials,and%20the%20commitment%20to%20bring%20it%20to%20fruition.

“Stewards of the Future is a Province-wide high school student initiative designed to engage students in hands-on activities and ‘real world’ learning experiences in their communities. Provides funding for teachers and other educators to go on field trips, visit community venues and engage in stewardship projects in their communities.”

7- Canadian Parks Council, Nature Playbook:

“The Nature Playbook is dedicated to bringing children into Nature at an early age and includes chapters on looking for Nature in an urban environment, sharing the fun in Nature, embracing technology and sharing cultural roots and ancestry in Nature”.

8- Raincoast Education Society (Clayoquot, Barkley Sound Region)

“Raincoast provides hands-on filed-based outdoor education to visiting elementary and secondary schools. Only of interest to teachers who are able to take their students to Tofino. They also put on youth camps.”

9- Friends of Semiahmoo Bay Society School programs:

“Offers quality education programming to schools in the White Rock, Surrey, Langley area for grades two through 7. Volunteer educators visit schools to give a presentation which is followed up by a field trip. Following the class presentation the teacher is provided with a resource kit that includes teacher resource materials etc. Programs can be booked on-line.”

After the second web site which is American add “Provides K-12 students and educators with access to quality homework resources, lesson plans and project ideas for learning and teaching about the environment.”

10- Nature’s Wild Neighbours Society,

“Features a set of easy to review resources to aid teachers in expanding students’ knowledge of the natural world with various wildlife guides and also linking art classes with Nature.”

11- Robert Bateman Foundation:

  • “Contains three sections all of which are focused on teaching Nature through art either by on-line art classes for all ages or for outdoor classes for grades K-8.”   
  •  Outdoor Play, written by Ellen Moshein; illustrated by Kelly McMahon; photography by Anthony Nex
  • The big book of nature activities: a year-round guide to outdoor learning: written by Jacob Rodenburg and Drew Monkman
  • Cultivating outdoor classrooms: designing and implementing child-centered learning environments: written by Eric Nelson
  • Moving the classroom outdoors: schoolyard-enhanced learning in action: written by Herbert W. Broda
  • I love dirt! 52 activities to help you and your kids discover the wonders of nature, by Jennifer Ward; foreword by Richard Louv; illustrations by Susie Ghahremani
  • Explore the Salish Sea, A Nature Guide for Kids, Gaydos, Joseph K. & Benedict, Audrey Delella, Seadoc Society,
  • Living Schoolyard Activity Guide
  • Place-based Education, David Sobel
  • Last Child in the Woods and The Nature Principle, Richard Louv
  • Outside Our Window, Liz McCaw
  • Coyote’s Guide to Connecting With Nature, John Young
  • Natural Curiosity Handbook,
  • Nature Connection on Outdoor Workbook, Clare Walker Leslie,
  • For the Birds, Atwood, Margaret, Earth Care Books, Douglas & MacIntyre, Toronto, Vancouver, 1990
  • Return of the Osprey, Mason, Patricia, Harbour Publishing, madeira Park, BC, 1999
  • Windigo and Other Stories of the Ojibways, Schwarz, Herbert T., McClelland & Stewart, Toronto, Montreal, 1969, reprint 1978
  • Salmon Creek, LeBox, Annette & Reczuch, Karen, Douglas & McIntyre, Toronto, Vancouver: A Groundwood Book 2002
  • Swimmer, Gill, Shelley, Paws IV Publishing, Homer, Alaska, 1993
  • Siwite – A Whale’s Story, Morton, Alexandra, Orca Classics, Orca Book Publishers, Victoria, BC & Custer Wa., 1991