What's one of your favorite educational activities that can be done outside the classroom?

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16  Answers

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Applying learning to everyday activities. Everywhere we go, my husband and I take the opportunity to teach our kids. When we were recently on vacation, my kids were trying to figure out how fast our houseboat would get us to our destination. My husband taught them all about time and speed and before I knew it, they were calculating how long it would take. I LOVE this - real life application that shows the kids purpose. Other fun things: Teaching math through lemonade stands. Learning science through cooking. Experiencing history through traveling. Exploring the outdoors to learn about the specific trees/animals from the classroom. Reading signs on the freeway or at the grocery store. Practicing business by selling at a local farmer's market. Education is built upon from real life experiences and whether in the classroom or in my home, I think it is invaluable to show kids the real life of all this learning!

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Reading of course. I LOVE to read. I read for my own enjoyment and I read with my own daughter. EVERYONE can engage in reading outside of the classroom and it can be done for free with a library card.

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The outdoors has so much to offer when it comes to expanding the thinking of a young child. There are so many opportunities for your child to explore and observe the world around them. I always enjoy a good scavenger hunt where your child can move around, interact with others, and be successful. My son enjoys nature scavenger hunts that involve looking at leaves, rocks, and of course bugs. It's very simple to put together. Find a topic that your child is learning in school or something they want to know more about. Brainstorm a lists of objects that relate to that topic and create your hunt. Scavenger hunts don't have to take place outdoors. Take your child to a museum with a list of things to find. This will ensure that your child is getting the most out of the visit. The most important part to any activity outside the classroom is that making sure the parent is there for support, guidance, and motivation. Parents are the key to a child's success and when you take learning outside the classroom, who is left to teach? You, the parent!!!

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Well, that's a tough one as my whole blog is full of educational activities that could be done outside the classroom. :)
Perhaps one of the easiest ways for parents to provide something both educational and useful for their child would be to involve them in the cooking process. Kids in the kitchen learn SO much. From maths and scientific concepts to language, fine motor skills and building healthy relationships and understanding about food. You can't go wrong finding a good, simple recipe and starting there. Also, the earlier you involve them, the better! :)

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I recently finished teaching a week of camp to 3-12 year olds. The theme was Games Around the World. Throughout the week, I taught the children 30 or so different games from other countries. The games taught students about other cultures, asked them to work together as a team and many of them also incorporated skills such as strategizing, predicting and problem solving all of which are important skills for children of any age.

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My favorite educational activity that can be done outside the classroom is literally going outside! Nature study is fun, and kids can learn so much more from seeing creation for themselves rather than only looking at a picture in a book. It is really simple to start keeping a nature notebook or journal, which can be as simple as a composition notebook or as fancy as an artist's sketchbook. Homemade nature journals are easy to make, too. Invest in some good quality colored pencils, and you're ready to go. For younger kids, have them use peeled crayons or crayon rocks to create "rubbings" of tree bark and leaves. Older children and teens can draw what they observe or take photographs to paste in their books. Consult field guides or search online to find out more about things you find, and add the details to your nature notebook. Any time of year, kids can observe the weather, plants, wildflowers, trees, mushrooms, insects, and other critters. Look at things from different perspectives, and encourage kids to look up close; maybe even provide a magnifying glass. There is always something new to discover, and taking school outside is a fun way to show kids that learning doesn't stop when you leave the classroom.

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Casey says: My favorite activity outside of school is playing games! My oldest just recently grew out of the "we play by my rules" and "I always win" phase and we can actually play board games by the rules! This was such a joyous yet unexpected milestone to reach! It is so cool to see him strategize... his goal isn't to win but to make the game last as long as possible because it is so much fun!

Jessica says: I agree with Casey... definitely playing board games. Playing board games can benefit so many aspects of their cognitive and social development and it is fun for the whole family.

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Cooking with kids is a great way to reinforce math skills like measuring, adding, and time. Cooking teaches process and order (first, second, last). There is also a lot of science built in when you watch bread rise or ice cream freeze.

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I'm certainly no rugged outdoorswoman, but I love to expand the walls of my classroom to include not only our school grounds but local attractions like gardens, farms and parks. Planting bulbs in the fall and seeds in the spring helps my students learn about life cycles, seasons, plants and food production. Visiting farms gives many of them their first opportunity to get up close and personal with animals such as cows, chickens, ducks, geese, sheep, pigs and horses, and they get to observe the growth of food products at the source instead of just purchasing the final fruits, veggies, meat, eggs and dairy at the grocery store. Nature parks help my Super Stars to understand their connection to the environment, and with the help of park rangers and nature guides, how to stay safe when outside.

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I always think creating your own board games is an educational activity that can be done outside of the classroom. Children can become involved in creating their own board game based on a specific skill or concept that they have learned in school. It serves as great reinforcement for the child. They will learn and have FUN all in one.

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Field trips! Visit a farm, the zoo, museums, houses of worship, government buildings, radio/TV stations, business districts, factories, orchards, airports, train stations, bakeries, cultural centers, universities- the list is literally endless when you begin to think of the myriad of opportunities in our local communities.

When children are able to experience the world outside their neighborhoods, they begin to understand how we are all connected, and how things work. Seeing different perspectives helps children to become more globally aware, but also increases their creativity and problem-solving skills; the "real world" lessons make what they've learned in class or in books to come alive.

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Honestly I think the most educational activities are just spending quality time with your children. Talking to them and discussing real life situations is what helps them to grow and learn. Unplug from the computer and get out and enjoy a mini field trip to the zoo or aquarium. Even a nature hike and reading all the signs about the animals and plants. Kids learn so much from hands on real life situations.

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One of my favorite educational activities that I do inside my classroom as well as at home is observe caterpillars turn into butterflies. It is very easy, interesting, and educational for the whole family! Check out library books that talk about the butterfly life cycle, watch videos on you-tube, track the growth, etc. Your family will love it!

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Nature walks! This is something I do with my own children all the time. Sometimes, slowing down and taking a look at the natural world can lead to some great discoveries and discussions. Just recently my family was on vacation and I took my 2 year old and 5 year old on what I called a "Treasure hunt". We walked a trail at the resort we were staying at and within 10 minutes we had seen 4 bunnies, a flock of pheasants, and found 1 really amazing feather. I took the time to tell my kids a few facts about bunnies and then when we got back to the room I Googled pictures of pheasants so we could see if the feather matched the birds we saw. Learning opportunities can be made in the simplest ways sometimes!

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Journalling has to be one of my favorite educational activities that can be done outdoors. By bringing a journal to the outdoors, children are able to integrate writing skills and creative thinking with the exploration of the outdoor environment.

A little tip for outdoor journals: Don't feel like the journal needs to be all about writing words. It can include a variety of skills or approaches. For example, drawing a picture of what a child sees or closing your eyes and listening to what your hear while coloring. Making leaf prints in the journal or taking photos of outdoor favorites and then writing something (or dictating) something about the photos.

And one more tip: Make sure that the materials used (Crayons or Paper) for outdoor journalling will be really usable in the outdoor environment. Put paper on a clipboard if necessary and put crayons in a small bag with a handle for taking along easily as you go for a walk.

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Reading to and with children! That includes acting out stories, re-imagining the plot with different twists, drawing from imagination inspired by a book parent and child have read together. And of course... writing original stories.

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