Outdoor Classroom Ideas for Your Homeschool
Let’s face it: homeschooling in the spring can be very difficult. We’ve been cooped up all winter and, depending on where you live, it may have been a rough one. In Nebraska, we can rely on snow, cold, and wind for our winters. These months we stay locked up in the house, only participating in indoor activities, like basketball.
By the time spring rolls around, we are ready for the sun and the beautiful outdoors!
Read on for homeschool ideas and tips on how to homeschool outdoors. I even have some spring activities for school included!
- Homeschooling Outdoors
- How to Make Spelling Fun
- Outdoor Educational Activities
- Homeschool Projects for Spring
- High School Homeschool Requirements Information
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Since kids don’t always have the words to express their feelings, their disdain for being stuck inside can be difficult for everyone. Your children may show their need to be outside by not cooperating, complaining, and generally having a bad attitude.
Why not stay ahead of the game and take your homeschool outdoors? It can be a great way to make everyone happy: kids are happy to be outside and you are happy because you’re still being productive with school. It’s a win-win!
Another reason to take your homeschool outside is to just spice things up a bit.
By the time spring rolls around, we’ve been doing the same thing every day. It can make homeschooling more fun to move to a different location, especially on a beautiful spring day.
Getting outside of our normal routine can be a breath of fresh air, as long as some structure remains in place. Need more help with homeschool schedules?
The benefits of getting outside are numerous! Getting more sunlight makes everyone’s mood better, including yours. It also helps to ward off any seasonal depression you may be dealing with.
Being able to stretch and run and play helps the kids get their bodies moving, feel better and sleep better.
Giving the younger kids something different to do while you do school with the older kids is another benefit. You may find that you’re even more productive by moving outside!
On that note, I would like to caution you a little bit. As homeschooling moms, we tend to get caught up in finishing the curriculum, finishing the book, making sure all the knowledge gets passed down. While there is nothing wrong with this, it is OK to relax sometimes and not worry about it all getting finished. No matter how hard you try, your child will have gaps and it’s OK. All kids have learning gaps, no matter how they are being schooled. It’s just a part of the human experience.
We can’t possibly learn all the things there is to know in the course of a childhood.
Once I let that sink in deep, it helped me to be more relaxed about taking time off or modifying things so my kids could benefit. Try not to worry that handwriting isn’t getting done because you’re outside doing math problems while playing hopscotch. It’ll all work out in the end.
Just trust the process.
How to Make Spelling Fun
This is not just going to be about spelling. I am going to explore how to make all the subjects more fun by homeschooling outdoors, but let’s start with spelling since that’s what I titled this section.
Side note: this section is about taking school outside and doing actual school subjects but with a nature or outside twist. You will be taking books, pencils, notebooks, dry erase materials outside to do school. Or sometimes we’ll do what we’re already working on but without writing in books/notebooks.
For example, if my 1st grader is learning how to skip count by 3’s, I’ll have her hopscotch and count by 3’s, write it with sidewalk chalk or orally count while she shoots the basketball. So she’s still doing her normal math curriculum, but in a way that is more engaging and fun.
Below I will talk about other outdoor educational activities that aren’t tied to your curriculum
- Write words in sidewalk chalk
- Spell words outloud while riding bikes
- Walk a figure 8 and spell outloud before finish
- Bounce a ball back and forth between kids or parent/child and spell words
- Play “horse” with basketball but use spelling words instead
- Write on windows with dry erase markers
- Simply let child read in a tree or wherever they would like
- Narrate back their book while bouncing a ball, riding their bike
- Draw a picture of your read aloud book with sidewalk chalk while parent reads
- Draw the book in order with sidewalk chalk
- Have your child read to the dog, bug, plant
- Take a notebook outside and let them write a story about a tree, bug, animal, etc.
- Take your small whiteboards out and use it for any of the above
- Child “writes” a story while riding their bike or shooting hoops while you dictate.
- Pro tip: If you use Google Docs in the Chrome browser, it will dictate your story for you. Just go to “tools” and select “voice typing” and have your child start talking!
- Practice facts with sidewalk chalk
- Make a hopscotch and have them count by 2’s, 3’s–whatever you’re learning
- They give oral answers while shooting hoops or riding a bike
- Count how many birds, bugs, plants or other spring critters are around
- Graph the above by using sidewalk chalk or dry erase on the windows/white board or in a notebook
Outdoor Educational Activities
If you don’t want to take your homeschool outside and are looking for ideas unrelated to your existing curriculum, you’ve come to the right place! Here are some outdoor homeschool activities you can do in the spring.
This age group is so much fun to engage in outdoor activities! They are curious and old enough to be helpful, while doing more difficult tasks. Here is a list of outdoor educational activities you can do with your younger children.
- Go on a nature scavenger hunt or play nature Bingo (PE)
- Have your child pick a critter (bird, bug) and observe for a few minutes. Go to the library and find books all about that critter. Make a booklet, draw a picture or write a report about what your child learned. (reading, writing, art, science)
- Plant some annual flower seeds. Keep this simple and easy. Have your child draw a picture through each stage of the plant growth. (science, art)
- Run around the house, then skip around the house and compare your heart rate each time. (science, PE)
- Graph your heartrate for different activities. (science, math)
- Answer the question “Why” when observing bugs, worms, birds. ie: Why do the worms like to live under the ground? For very young children, just answer one question about it. Watch a Youtube video for research. Keep it simple. (science, writing/language arts)
- Go on a field trip to a local farm and see the babies! (science)
- Go to your local feed store, like Tractor Supply, and watch the baby chicks. It is very entertaining! You can have older kids write, draw or do further research on chicks, chickens, birds, or eggs. (science, language arts, spelling, handwriting, reading)
- Flower pressing is a fun spring activity. Find different blooms and press them between wax paper and books. Alternativly, you can spread them in between clear contact paper and hang them on the window! (art)
This age group is a little more challenging, mostly due to their developmental stage, hormones, and other factors. Middle school age children are not as eager to “do school” as their younger siblings, however, they are much more capable and able to reason, critically think, and engage on a higher level. Hopefully, these outdoor activities can be that spark for your middle schooler.
- Draw pictures of anything in nature, do research and label the parts (science, art, writing)
- Give them your phone and make a video about spring. Show them how to edit it using iMovie or similar programs. (language arts, computer)
- Plan a garden, decide where you want it to go, what you want to plant. (science, math)
- Figure out costs for a sping project, such as gardening, raising baby chicks, building a tree house. You don’t have to actually do the project, just go to the Home Depot and have fun dreaming. (math)
- Teach old school games like 4 square, hopscotch and dodge ball. (PE)
- Plus, all of the elementary activites! Just modify as needed for older abilities.
HIgh school is a fantastic age group to work with! It’s one of my favorite childhood stages. Not only are they much more capable of pretty much anything you want to do, but they are out of their “I hate the world” stage and are much more engaging and fun to hang out with. Have fun doing these following activities with your highschooler or have them do them on their own.
- Make lunch based on only foods you can find in the spring. Shop at the farmer’s market. They can evencreate a menu in Canva if they want to. (math, elective, language arts)
- Memorize a poem about spring. They can practice it while swinging at the park, shooting hoops or other outside activites. (language arts, PE)
- Set up a painting area outside and let them paint what they see, or paint a tree, bird, or other part of nature. (elective)
- Let them design the scavenger hunt for your younger kids (see elementary section, math, science, language arts)
- Learn about companion planting (science)
Homeschool Projects for Spring
Just in case you want to do a full-on project, here are some ideas!
This can be a good idea because instead of managing all of the above pieces and parts, you can do one project with your entire family and still hit all the educational areas.
Let your older kids help plan it out and include them in more of the behind the scenes tasks. That helps you and gives them more ownership, as well. Then your younger kids can just help with the “fun parts” of these projects. Either way, everyone is still learning and having fun while doing it.
- Plan out and plant a garden. Decide how much your family will eat, what veggies they actually like and how much you can harvest from a plant. Figure out if you want to square foot garden or row garden. If you don’t have space, you can container garden. Learn about the different types of gardens, what zone you’re in, when to plant, where to get seeds/plants and how to harvest. I have a whole post about this, along with some printables, if you’re interested.
- Raise baby chicks. Even in the city you can do this. Before you buy your chicks, find a local farmer who can take them off your hands when you’re ready. This is easier than you think. Also look into local 4H groups for families who could also take them for you. Learn about chicks, costs, materials, feed. Figure out where you can keep them and for how long. Your kids will love this! Raising baby chicks is not hard and the commitment can be as little as 2 weeks, if you find a local farmer. Or, maybe you’ve been wanting a couple of backyard chickens. Take this as your opportunity to start! You won’t regeret keeping chickens and having fresh eggs. I also have more information on raising baby chicks, along with more printables!
High school only projects
- Learn about landscaping and give them their own plot to do whatever they want. Have them figure out costs, time and matierials. Let them be creative and give them freedom to work! (math, science, PE, language arts, art)
- Start a business fixing lawn mowers if your child likes engines. Also mowing lawns is a good business, as well! (math, science, PE)
- Volunteer at a local farm. (PE, science)
High School Homeschool Requirements Information
This is just a sidebar of information in case you do have a highschooler you are homeschooling.
I have a 4 part series all about homeschooling high school. Please take a look. I cover everything from creating transcripts to curriculum to encouragement.
It fits right in with the above projects because I teach you how to take these types of projects and count them for high school credit. I even have a high school homeschool credit tracker made just for this! It’s what I’ve used for all of my high school kids and I’ve gotten 2 of my 3 into college with these transcripts and trackers. (My first daughter didn’t want to go to college.)
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