3 Steps to Creating a Teaching On-The-Go with “Outdoor Curriculum Kits”
3 Steps to Creating a Teaching-On-The-Go Outdoor Curriculum Kit
“Any approach to learning and teaching usually works just as effectively outdoors as it does indoors.” Juliet Robertson
Do you ever look at your outdoor space and think, “How can in incorporate a quick lesson outdoors?” Does your outdoor classrooms space have physical challenges and leave you uninspired? Or are you simply looking for new “Pop Up” Outdoor Classroom ideas? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you are in the right place.
I love introducing the “Curriculum on the Go” kit at workshops. I love watching the faces of the teachers when I start pulling out all the materials one by one. I always feel like a combination of Ms. Frizzle and Mary Poppins.
I coincidently received a question from a preschool director inquiring about the “Outdoor Kit” that I introduced at a STEAM Conference at Endicott College.
“I attended your STEM workshop at Endicott and you mentioned the “outdoor kits” that included a white cloth, magnifying glasses, etc. My teachers would like to put a few of those together. Would you be willing to share that list with me or send a picture of what you suggest?”
“Outdoor Kits” are easy to put together and a simple way to add nature-based curriculum when outdoors with a group of children. Each “Outdoor Kit” should be original and speak to the needs of your lesson and group.
STEP ONE: BRAINSTORMING your lesson. What do you want to teach Outdoors? What is the lesson for the day? Get inspired by Nature Based Children’s Books. Choose a book, brainstorm all the ingredients/materials for your lesson and make a list.
STEP TWO: COLLECT USED BACKPACKS from your community. The Curriculum on the Go Kit will go into a backpack. Asking parents for an old backpack is a great way to get them involved. Each backpack can be used for a different theme and lesson. Label the backpack with a tag.
STEP THREE: COLLECT MATERIALS for your Outdoor Kit. Here is the list of “basic materials” to help get teachers started.
MATERIALS FOR STEAM “OUTDOOR KIT
- Scrap paper, mini notebooks
- Portable seats (children can make sit-upons)
- Clip Boards (these can be made out of cardboard)
- Light-colored cloth
- Magnifying glasses
- Natural materials (stick, stones, loose parts)
- Digital Equipment
- Identification guides
- Books ( each kit can have a different themed book)
- Fun hats to wear when you are telling a story
- Talking Stick
- Special puppet that lives in the Curriculum Kit
STEP FOUR: REFRESH AND RENEW. In order to keep your Outdoor experiences rich and exciting, make sure you change up the items in your “Outdoor Curriculum Kit” or make more than one. You can do this daily, weekly or monthly. This is a wonderful tool to keep the children’s curiosity alive.
STEP FIVE: TAKE NOTES. Jot down tips. What works? What doesn’t? Share these insights with other teachers.
A few tips:
- Think about the development of children. Do they need “sit upons” to define your gathering space?
- Invite children into the process of adding to your “Outdoor Curriculum Kit.”
- Have Fun! Explore and learn that every trail connects!
- For young children, add a finger puppet or something that only lives in the STEAM Outdoor Kit.
Now I want to hear from you. What would you put in your STEAM Curriculum-On-The-Go Kit? What other types of kits have you made? Share your comments below.
I really like the idea of the outdoor kit! I specially like having magnifying glasses available for their investigations year around – and not only during “bugs and insects week”!
Magnifying glasses are wonderful year round! Anne has a little science mailbox in her Outdoor Classroom that holds all these treasures.
I love the idea of including literature. It is a great way to focus the childre’s interests. It gives us a common goal to start our observations and collections. I imagine all of us running to a log to turn it over. Thank you for a simple place to start.
I have put together our outdoor kits, and we are exploring on our nature walks. We are learning to identify the trees on our path, and collecting their leaves to match with the ones in our leaf book. Yesterday we decorated owl s with leaves for their feathers. The children loved the activity! Next week, we will be looking at worms, as we expect a lot of rain. I really love these kits, such a great idea.
Fabulous! Sounds perfectly wonderful. Can’t wait to hear about your worm adventures. One thing we did was have worm races. Can you imagine the excitement? Enjoy.