School may be out for the summer, however, it is important to keep your children engaged in activities that allow them to continue their education. Of course, you don’t want them to be cooped up in your home in an attempt to mimic a classroom setting. Good luck trying to convince them to do so anyways, especially during the bright and sunny days of the season. Instead, plan a schedule of activities that allows them to enjoy the great outdoors while learning about a wide variety of topics in the process. There will likely be some outdoor-education programs in your area, and we encourage you to inquire further at your local community center. That being said, our Foundation, a big believer in outdoor learning experiences, thought to post a few ideas for you parents and summer-school teachers looking to engage and educate your students with activities – sans fluorescent lighting.
Five Fun and Educational Outdoor Learning Concepts for the Summer
1. Visit a Local Community Garden
Taking your kids to a community garden opens up a world of learning possibilities. In this “outdoor classroom” setting they can learn about horticulture (the art, science, technology, and business of plant cultivation), organic foods, self-sustenance, and more importantly the concept of community. While these gardens are immensely enjoyable on their own try to find one that incorporates one of these fun concepts that will allow kids to squeeze in a little time to “play” as well.
2. Visit a Local Farm
Allow your kids to immerse themselves deeper into the horticultural branch of agriculture by taking them to a local farm that allows supervised visits. Even better, find out if there are actual programs in place, such as the Natural Factors farm visits in the Okanagan region of British Columbia. There is no better way to educate your children on the seed-to-table concept, providing them with a new appreciation about where their food comes from.
3. Plan a Beach Clean-Up
If you reside near a lake or ocean then this item should be at the top of your list of outdoor learning “to do’s” this summer. Taking your kids out on an AM beach clean-up (separating trash from recycling) not only benefits the environment, it opens up yet another opportunity to educate them on the interconnectedness between nature and the community. After the clean-up, you can teach your children about sea life both near the shore and deep in the water. You can inform them about responsible marine stewardship and how the sustainable concept is connected to the very seafoods that line the freezers of local supermarkets and ultimately your dining room table. Summer trips to the beach no longer need to be just about building sandcastles, although you should indeed slot in some time for that as well!
4. Visit a Local Bee Farm
Bees are responsible for pollinating approximately one-sixth of the flowering plant species in the world, and an estimated 400 varying agricultural types of plant. The question has been posed by many “Would we starve without bees?“. Einstein certainly believed so. Once again, if a part of your child’s summertime outdoor learning involves teaching them about the interconnectedness of nature then a visit to a local bee farm should be added to your itinerary. Bee farms are absolutely fascinating and on-site apiarists (bee-keepers) are often more than happy to share their knowledge with the budding young minds that pay their farms a visit.
5. Visit a Local Ecological Wonder
Practically every region will have some sort of ecological destination to visit during the summer. Some are protected from land development yet left to nature’s devices, while others are kept within controlled environments. For example, if you reside within the Lower Mainland of British Columbia you can take your kids on an educational walking tour of the natural marshlands near Jericho Beach. On the flip side, you could visit the domed Bloedel Conservatory or VanDusen Botanical Garden. These destinations serve as both visual and educational outdoor learning treats for the summer.
We hope you are able to take your child/student on one or more of the outdoor learning journeys above. Summer is a great time to enjoy the outdoors, learn from it and get inspiration.