Ok, I love incorporating new technology tools into my teaching. I also love nature and being outdoors. For me, what's even better than each of these is finding ways to incorporate technology into the design of an outdoor learning experience. This combination gets me -- and many youth, too -- caught up in the flow of learning. What program activities would you like to take outside?
The Children & Nature Network has designated April as Let's G.O.! (Get Outside) month where people of all ages are encouraged to play, serve and celebrate together in nature. With the spring weather upon us, it is the perfect time to move our learning environments into the outdoors. Regardless of the topic and teaching tools you are utilizing - low or high tech - with a little creative thinking most experiences can be transferred to the outdoor environment.
Here are five simple steps to remember when moving your indoor learning experience outside:
- Review your youth program quality indicators, as they are still vital to the success of the experience: safe environment, supportive environment, interaction and engagement.
- Use this opportunity to do things on a bigger scale.
- Incorporate physical activity and opportunity to engage large motor muscles. Remember, youth need at least 60 minutes of physical activity daily. Can you build a few minutes into your learning environment?
- Encourage the use of all five senses and offer the freedom to explore.
- Build upon real ways of interacting, tending and caring for the natural environment.
If you need a few ideas, check out Nature Rocks - Let's Go Explore list of simple activities to enhance your outdoor learning adventure.
I agree with the way Richard Louv describes it in his recent blog post: the "daily, monthly, yearly, lifelong electronic immersion, without a force to balance it, can drain our ability to pay attention, to think clearly, to be productive and creative".
We all need doses of natural information for balance. How do you take your indoor learning experiences outside? How do you design your learning experiences for balance?
Extension educator & associate Extension professor, educational design & development
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