We think the homeschool environment can be a great experience for parent and student alike, for quite a few reasons. In addition to the family bonding and unity it can create, you are also given an incredible gift through schooling from home: a unique flexibility to turn your classroom into exactly what you want it to be. Remember that it doesn’t have to be inside! You have the freedom to choose your learning “spot” and to venture out into the world just to see what the day may bring forth as a learning experience.
The spring season is the perfect time to move your classroom out of doors; the simple act of being outside and breathing fresh air, and feeling the breeze on your skin, can be invigorating and inspiring. Taking learning outdoors shouldn’t just be a case of half an hour of story-time in the sunshine. The outdoor classroom is a world full of opportunities for learning, creating, and exploring. So, we’ve taken the opportunity to put together some fabulous outdoor spring lesson plans for you!
Develop a learning garden
It’s okay to get your hands dirty! Developing a garden can be rewarding and fun. Gardening can affect the mind, body, and soul. According to PBS Kids, kids who garden score higher in science achievement tests than those who don’t tend a garden. Getting dirty from mud means your student is physically active. Spending time with family and friends can bring people closer together, too.
Check out some of these spring lesson plans on how to create your own garden:
Vertical gardening Not enough space to develop a full garden? Try out some creative ideas, such as using cinder blocks, a trellis, hanging baskets, and more. Vertical gardening is great if you live in a city where there isn’t much room to have a full-size garden.
Planting sunflowers Nothing says “summer” like sunflowers! It’s best to plant these as soon as you have your last frost. This tutorial shows your student how to plant sunflowers, tend them throughout the summer, and of course, enjoy them!
Turn a sandbox into a planter box. Have your kids outgrown the old sandbox? One kid’s old toy is another family’s treasure! Check out how this family turned the sandbox into a family garden. A great way to upcycle something old to something new! Plus, your kids will learn how plants grow (biology lesson, anyone?), and they learn the responsibility of taking care of a garden.
These spring lesson plans for tackling a garden are perfect for the budding (no pun intended!) garden enthusiast.
Create a sensory mystery
Have your student record the sounds from several streams, creeks, or rivers that you may have access to. Play them back to family members and see if they can guess where you were when you made the recording, and what made the sound. Have your student think of clues ahead of time to help others guess.
Next, using your nose and a tape measure, determine how far you can move away from a flower or identified scent and still smell its essence. While the smell of trailing arbutus may only be discernible for several feet, spring lilacs can be scented from much farther.
Using a camera with a good close-up lens, take pictures of the same buds on several different trees or bushes every day for a week or two in a row. Arrange the pictures from first to last and note the different rates for leaf out. Which tree or bush leafs out first? Last? Make sure to identify them all, and note what nuts or berries they may produce for local wildlife.
Investigate landscapes through art
Plan outdoor art as part of your spring lesson plans; it’s a great and inspirational venue for creativity and fun.
Take a whole box of art supplies — watercolors, sponges, paper, and even easels if you have access to them — along on your adventure. If you’re not naturally artistic, there are many online resources to help you prepare ahead of time!
Leaves also make excellent specimens for charcoal and colored pencil rubbings; the texture and outline of the leaf will come right through. You can later identify what trees the leaves belong to by researching online, or using a book or manual. Make sure to pay attention to the texture and color of a tree’s bark as well; it helps with identification!
Spend a day at a nature preserve or conservation organization
Spring is the time when most conservation groups and wildlife refuges begin a flurry of programs for students. Hop online and look around your area; you will most certainly be surprised at what you find. Spend a day focusing on our entire ecosystem and its local flora and fauna, and investigate our own individual roles in the conservation of precious resources.
Participation in these types of programs not only teaches your student about wildlife and natural resources; it helps build a sense of pride and community — and a feeling that they CAN make a difference in their own future through their actions now. Showing a student how non-profit organizations come together and form groups through the hard work of volunteers will leave an invaluable and permanent impression: that in order to truly have, you must be willing to give.
Explore the world around you
Homeschool parents know that the best lessons happen in the midst of real-life experiences. Verbal lessons are sometimes difficult for students to absorb. It’s much more fun to take the teaching outside, both investigating and learning at the same time. These spring lesson plans should give you and your student direction for the new season. So get muddy, volunteer, and explore creation during this wonderful time of year. Enjoy the beautiful springtime!