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Step Outside!

If stepping outside the safe four walls of your classroom with your students seems a little daunting, we can help.
With a little preparation, you can transform the space outside your building into an outdoor classroom!

Where to Begin?

Remember, whether you have a bare parking lot, an open field, or a 20-acre school forest, you have an outdoor classroom. You may find that a child who does not flourish inside those four walls will bud, blossom, and come to life outdoors.

  • Remind your students it’s not recess. You’re outside, yes, but you’re there to learn AND have fun!
  • Discuss all outdoor classroom expectations before leaving the room; they’ll be similar to your indoor classroom, but students who are excited to get outside may forget even the most basic rules of your classroom.
  • Does your school have guidelines for outdoor learning? Do you need to notify the principal? Is there a consent form needed?
  • Be prepared to deal with bees, mosquitoes, muddy feet, and scraped knees. They happen and are easily managed if you think ahead. Put a first-aid kit in a backpack, along with some paper towels and a bottle of water.
  • If your students are getting squirrely, have them form a circle. This will draw their attention back to the task at hand.
  • It may be helpful to take a whistle or other noise maker to get your student’s attention when they are at a distance.
  • Don’t forget the headcount!

What do you have to work with?

Take a quick look at what is on your school site. If you have any of the things listed below, and we know you do, there are lessons you can do outside. Make a list of what you have and start brainstorming your lesson connections.

  • Tree(s)
  • Shrub(s)
  • Lawn/Athletic field
  • Flower bed
  • Parking lot
  • Playground
School Grounds Success Story

Wausau’s Montessori School teacher & students head outside to learn

Wausau Area Montessori teachers have found that periodically moving the classroom outside has increased students’ interest in math, reading, and English. For example, the teachers at Wausau Area Montessori teach perimeter to students by having them walk the outer edge of their school grounds – a lesson that can be easily expanded in the classroom.

Reflect / Revise

If this is new to you, don’t worry about perfection, but think about improvement when you reflect. Just like with all other lessons, decide what went well and what could be improved.
Use your students and the assessment portion of the lesson just like you would in your indoor classroom.
Remember, the goal – learning – is the same!