Sunday, June 3, 2012

Outdoor Workstations

I'm reading this book:

It's a little slow in parts, but I love the premise. That our children just don't experience the outdoors the way kids did in the past. Today they don't want to stray very far from their electrical outlets, plus parents are much more overprotective. I feel very blessed to have grown up out in the country (I'm originally from Pennsylvania-or as my kids spell it Pencil-vania :). I went away to week-long Girl Scout Camp every summer for 3 summers-true camping-no electricity, I still remember Polar Bearing in the lake. We learned to build a fire, kayak--that was over 20 years ago and it's still a very vivid memory. Not sure I could win a round of Survivor, but could definitely fend for myself on a camping excursion. Even in our backyard, we used to find many ways to entertain ourselves-chasing fireflies or playing flashlight tag.

Today I'm not sure our kids are getting the same experiences. Many are involved in after-school activities so they don't get home until 5:00-6:00 at night. If it's already dark out parents are rightfully reluctant to let them go play outside. I poll my students often to find out what they are doing on the weekends-9 times out of 10 it's video games or cartoons. Just not intellectually stimulating activities.

So my plan next year is to bring the outdoors into our curriculum! One day per week we are going to take our workstations outside. Here are some of the ideas I've been kicking around, we don't have a lot of space on our playground, but maybe could set up in the large grassy area we have available :

1) Jump rope-making rhyme chants for language arts or counting in math.

2) Magnifying glasses and a clipboard-sounds very simple I know, but my kiddos could entertain themselves very easily with those 2 items. Just let them explore the flowers/insects they find around the building and record what they find.

3) Dirt/rocks in our sand/water table-I am very reluctant to do this indoors because we do have a new school building and are trying to keep everything still looking as new as possible. But they could build a castle with the rocks, think like a scientist and write about the differences, properties of soil, etc.

4) Hopscotch-kids today don't even know what this is! Great way to help coordination skills. I've even done sight word hopscotch or you could do it with math facts.

5) Follow a map to find a treasure-great way to practice real-world map reading skills!

6) Paint with water-no clean up necessary. They could paint letters/numbers/words.

7) Lie on your back and look for shapes in the clouds. They could even write a poem about their cloud or just share it with a buddy.

8) Read a book outside-my puppy loves to just sit and watch the world go by so I do this almost every evening. It just makes it so much more enjoyable (even with the mosquitoes).

9) Yoga station-a few mats and the kids can learn to follow the pictorial or when they start reading, simple word instructions to do the poses.

10) Give them some equipment-Frisbee, hula hoop, various balls and let them invent their own game! Love to see what they come up with. My favorite recess game to watch is "Zombies"-hey, if there is an apocalypse in December, these kids will be prepared!

** Anyone ever done outdoor stations before or have any other ideas, I'd love to hear your suggestions.


  1. I love this idea, I just ordered this book from Amazon for one of my summer reads. One thing I started to do this school year was a weekly science experiment and we always took it outside (weather permitting).


  2. I'm going to have to grab this book! We were just talking about this!!

    Jessica Stanford
    Mrs. Stanford's Class Blog

  3. I think that is a wonderful idea. It is so sad to me that children don't get to experience life the way that a lot of us used to when we were children.
    Learning Is Something to Treasure

  4. I love this idea...and your blog! My students love to play in the woods on the side of our playground. This year they even built a hawk's nest on the ground! We like to sidewalk chalk our spelling words and hopscotch skip counting. What about collecting sticks to arrange into letters and words?

    Owl Things First

  5. Thank you so much for your comments!

    Owl Things First-I love the idea of stick words! :) Will definitely add that to the list.