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Anytime is a wonderful time to “think outside the box”--the classroom box, that is. Why not take learning outside? This is a great time to plan field trips or school-yard learning experiences.
Here are some "think outside the box" ideas:
1. Start a school garden. So much learning takes place as students watch seeds become flowers. At my school, students love to care for our small garden. There is Swiss chard and clover growing in an enclosed space with a hutch for our bunny. We have rain barrels for reclaiming water to use on cabbage, onion, and potato plants. On the last day of school, the produce is harvested and lucky students get to take some home.
2. Plan walking tours of historical buildings in your town. Pack bag lunches and eat at a park. See if your city has a historian who will give guided tours for free. Contact your historical society to find out what’s available in your area.
3. Give students clipboards then travel outside after it rains. Have them look for examples of erosion and signs of weathering then make note of them. Give students time to record what they see by taking notes and making drawings or by using digital cameras or other video recording devices.
4. Make home-made weather instruments and sun-dials then spend days making observations.
5. Grab some timers and go outside for math class. Have students estimate how long it will take them to do various activities, and then time the actual results (ie: 20 jumping jacks, run 50 meters, 20 squat thrusts).
6. Here’s an adapted idea: Supplies needed are cardboard circles or squares and markers. Label one side with different monetary values (ie: .10 cents, .50 cents, $1.00, $5.00, $100.00). Place these randomly with the marked side downward in a circle on the ground. Divide students into teams. Agree on a monetary amount to reach (ie: first team to reach $355.50). Call out “go!” One student from each team runs into the circle and grabs a card. Students run to their team mates and decide whether to keep or return the cards. The next player runs to the middle and repeats the process. Play continues until a team announces the exact, winning amount has been reached. Teachers should check the winning amount to be sure of correct addition.
7. If your school has a walking track, go outside for daily walks. Every time students complete a trek around the track, give them Popsicle sticks. Record how many they gather then make a graph. Set individual/team goals. When students reach their goals, have a Popsicle party.
What is your favorite teaching idea to get “outside the box”? Leave us a comment.
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