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Best Homeschool Outdoor Activities for Fun Learning
The whole idea behind homeschooling your children should be to spark their curiosity and help them make sense of the world around them by experiencing events. This is known as experiential learning. Children explore their surroundings, identify problems that occur in real-time and solve them by using their creativity, imagination, and critical thinking skills without minimal supervision.
Experiential learning helps the students build the capacity to deal with complex new situations. They begin to recognize the stimuli from their environments and create patterns and connections to solve everyday problems. It improves their cognitive abilities, and they learn to battle challenges independently.
When the children are taught to learn from the outdoors, they start to see the balance in life. They notice the seamless blending of nature and cityscapes, religion and culture, society and politics, and learn the importance of maintaining equilibrium in life.
They grow up to be well-rounded individuals who are well aware of life on the streets. Their early childhood experiences that involved outdoor play and learning later helps them provide unique solutions to the problems by observing and constructing patterns from nature for sustainable living.
Why Should Homeschooling Be Inclusive of Outdoor Learning?
Many times, I get asked the question if one should use homeschool outdoor activities and make them a part of your homeschool curriculum. You could always designate 3 days in the week for some wholesome outdoor activities for your homeschool students. In these 3 days, you could go on trips, explore the neighborhood and play a lot of games in the backyard so that your children can experience what it is like to learn from the environment.
Growing and learning are the two processes that stop only when we die. Until then, consciously or subconsciously, we continue to receive signals and stimuli from our surroundings that help us question things, search for things and find meaningful answers to those questions.
Homeschool outdoor activities can range from a simple walk in the neighborhood streets to camping trips in the north, but the ultimate goal should be to help children learn from experiences because this in turn will improve their observation skills, critical thinking, and decision making.
Best Homeschool Outdoor Activities for Fun Learning
Trips to the Museums
Trips to the museums can make your children learn history and culture through first-hand observation. They will be able to see for themselves what the men living in the Stone Age looked like or what is a stone tablet and how was it used to convey written messages. They will be able to see the evolution of humankind and how, in every era, humans used the resources available to them for finding solutions to everyday problems.
Being at the museum will spark their curiosity. They will learn about the powerful civilizations that lived before us and what were the secrets of the successes or the reasons for their downfall.
While at the museum, be sure to do the following so that the trip to the museum becomes a wholesome learning experience for your children:
- Ask for a guided tour – This will help them learn all the necessary details from the museum guides.
- Let them explore the place – After the guided tour, you should let the children explore the place at their own pace, and it’s okay if they refuse to skip one section of the museum and request to go back to the one they just came from. This shows that something in the previous section sparked their curiosity, and they would like to revisit it to get the answers.
- Ask them questions – Continue to ask them questions that will allow them to think critically. For example, you can ask them what they would have done if they were caught in the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927. This will help them retain the details of the events that they just read from the museum label. Placing themselves in that situation and relating to that event on a personal level will engrave the information in their minds as they will no longer see it as a one-off distant event but think of it as something they could personally get affected by.
- Ask them what it was about the trip that they enjoyed the most and why. This will help you to gauge their personal interests and allow you to flex your homeschooling strategy to accommodate their individual interests.
Trips to the Zoo
Trips to the zoo have always been a fun learning experience for kids. They learn about the different kinds of animals, their unique dietary needs, their origin or birthplace, and how to take care of them.
The constant stream of stimulation that they receive from their surroundings in the form of sounds, visuals, smells, and tangible feelings will activate their brain cells and improve their cognitive skills. They will think, react, identify, solve, decide and retain using the information that they have received from their surroundings, and after the trip, show signs of improved knowledge.
While you are at the museum, let them do the following:
- Read all the labels on the cages.
- Mimic the sounds of all the animals that they have seen.
- Categorize the animals based on their appearance, e.g. snakes, lizards, crocodiles, and alligators are all reptiles.
- Take pictures (unless prohibited by the staff).
- Feed the animals.
Trips to Botanical Gardens
Trips to botanical gardens are a great way to teach children about plants, their unique characteristics, gardening, and the importance of growing plants to build and maintain a healthy ecosystem. The children will be able to observe a wide variety of flowers, plants, insects, birds, and the fruits, herbs, or vegetables that grow on them.
While you are at the botanical gardens with your homeschool students, be sure to teach them about:
- Ecological interdependence
- Difference between perennial and evergreen plants.
- Why are plants at the first level of the food chain?
Trips to Aquariums
Now that they have seen the wildlife and know about the plants, it is only natural they will want you to teach them about marine life and why fishes need water to survive. To help them understand and witness oceanic life, you should take them to an aquarium.
This trip will allow them to see that underwater life does not only comprise fishes but there are millions of other living creatures and organisms that are living at the depths of the oceans. It will make them appreciate the beauty of nature, and if done right, you could teach them about the importance of minimizing seawater pollution.
While at the museum, be sure to do this:
- Differentiate between fishes and mammals.
- Focus on the importance of minimizing water pollution.
- Explain the importance of sustainable fishing.
Trips to the Planetarium
It is important for your children to understand the solar system and see what the world looks like from outer space. Planetariums are the best place to be if they want to experience what it looks like to see beyond the sky and get a glimpse of the world beyond the exosphere.
They will be able to see the alignment of planets, witness the trajectory of stars, and understand the zero-gravity environment of space. It will be a lot easier for them to retain the information as they are not just reading it from a book but are actually witnessing a visual theatre show.
Things to do at the planetarium:
- Teach them the difference between stars and planets.
- Teach them the difference between galaxy and universe.
- Teach them the difference between the moon’s orbit and the earth’s orbit.
- Teach them the difference between a shooting star and a meteor.
Grocery shopping can be a great homeschool outdoor activity and can teach your children the fundamental art of living under a budget. They can learn to manage their expenses, identify things that are essential for a healthy diet, and learn why some things are bought in dozens, some in grams, some in liters, and some in packets.
Including a grocery shopping trip into your homeschool curriculum will teach your children to distinguish between needs and wants. For example, they will understand that a bucket of ice cream is a want, whereas buying a carton of milk is a need, and therefore, they should make that a priority.
While at the grocery shop/ supermarket with your kids, be sure to do the following:
- Make a grocery list and teach your children why it is important to stick to it.
- Price evaluation
- Product evaluation
- Teach them where the products are sourced from.
- Food insecurity
- How to shop under a tight budget?
Apart from the activities mentioned above, the following homeschool outdoor activities will also make a great difference in your children’s learning experiences:
- Recycling Drives;
- Bake Sales;
- Backyard Renovation;
- Animal Rescue;
- Exploratory Trips;
- Road Trips;
- Camping Trips;
- Beach Trips; and
- Intercity/ Interstate Trips.