Today, I want to show you how to take your learning outdoors! We recently returned from a 10 day RV trip up the California coast, through Yosemite National Park to Mammoth Lakes. National Parks are a great way for kids to learn and they usually have plenty of educational material you can use before, during and after your visit. We live in Phoenix, AZ and there are many National Parks we still haven’t visited within driving distance of us.
How do kids learn beyond these provided educational materials and locations though? After watching my kids explore the new areas we visited I pulled together a list of ways my kids learned while being outdoors on our trip. I think the importance of getting outdoors and exploring isn’t necessarily about what they’re learning but HOW they are learning. Here’s what I observed during our trip:

  • Problem solving – how to move a heavy log, how to keep the dogs from getting their tie-outs tangled in camp, how to keep the fire going (with supervision from my husband).
  • Observations – environmental interactions, effects of humans on nature and vice versa
  • Motor fitness – balancing on logs and bridges, hiking on narrow trails, biking through rocky areas.
  • Creativity and Imagination – through free time around the campsite when technology wasn’t permitted.
  • Confidence building through mastery or completion of new skills – hiking farther, climbing higher, catching fish.
  • Increased attention span – I watched them go from being bored very quickly on the first day to constantly finding new things to keep their interest and never mentioning having nothing to do on the last.
  • History – not only could my husband tell the kids what had and hadn’t changed about his favorite childhood summer vacation spot, but we got to see and experience parts of the country that they’ve read about in literature, social studies and American history.

I hope this list encouraged you to get outdoors and learn by exploring! Even just getting outside for a walk and noticing nature around you in your area gets kids moving and thinking. A longer trip like this one was really ideal to foster some new skills, but you could simulate the same with a backyard camping trip or nature walks.