paula coomer, Author, background in higher ed, nursing, and early childhood ed
Any learning situation is enhanced by incorporating creative processes--especially those that encourage children to engage with nature--and gross motor activity. Creative outdoor activities suitable for even second graders can be more complicated than you might think if broken into components over days or weeks. All require a degree of planning, but this series of connected activities having to do with earlier human technologies can actually be the focus of an entire school year:
- gathering found items from the outdoors such as leaves, flowers, small sticks, feathers, etc., to create individual collages that juxtapose found items against photos of nature with discussions about the different between the nature world and the world we create;
- using straw and mud to create "bricks" in large paper cups (begin with a discussion and about how straw is grown, it's various uses in the past; bricks can later be used in to build a wall as part of the house activity below);
- measuring and outlining a house or building that might be built with their mud bricks using stones and string (students gather the stones first); students can imagine and discuss where various furniture might be placed, where they'd want their rooms and why;
- planting and maintaining a small flower or vegetable garden
- using child-safe "cement" to create stepping stones embedded with small stones and gathered items to lead from the garden to the "house";
- making simple vegetable dyes from beets, turmeric, tea, etc., for painting large fabric mural of their imagined "house" outside on the ground using the dyes (these will stain hands) and "brushes" made from shredding sticks;
- if your school will allow it, pit cooking underground using heated stones
- drying fruit on screens.
Use these occasions to teach spelling, language, mathematics, art, creativity, culture, science, cooperation, responsibility, and community.