I recently posted about doing projects for Social Studies to engage students in learning. Today, I would like to go further and talk about some activities that can be done outdoors. These activities can be done as part of a project or independently.
I have provided some examples of activities I have done, but there are many ways that these can be added to or modified to make them work for your students.
Neighborhood and community walks
One of the things I would regularly do with my class, was go on neighbourhood walks. These walks had many different purposes, but they were very important times for learning.
When I was teaching about community, we would look at the types of buildings and the way the streets were laid out. We would take note of any parks or other spots nearby. We would also look at the different types of signs and discuss why they might be there. We would then try to make comparisons with the neighbourhoods where the children lived. All of this information was important for the planning portion of creating our community.
When we were studying Earth Day, we would do some litter pick up in the neighbourhood. We would then talk about respecting our environment and ways we could continue to make a difference.
Using a compass
When I did work with mapping, we would add in the directional component. With younger children, we would go out on the field and practice using compasses to travel in a variety of different directions. It was fun to take 20 paces North turn to the East and go another 15 paces and so on. They had space to move around instead of being confined to the small classroom space.
Mapping and geocaching
With older children, learning about longitude and latitude was sometimes less than engaging. However, when I added a geocaching component, it became much more interesting for the students. We were no longer just locating information on maps, but we were treasure hunting using GPS devices. I even hid a geocache near the school for them to find.
Geocaching is a wonderful outdoor activity that can be done with the whole family. One year, I created a whole series of geocaches for a Professional Development session. The staff had to follow clues to find information for the Pro-D and at the end of the series, lunch was waiting for them. It was great fun, and educational too. It didn't take long to see the practical applications for the classroom.
History walks and museum visits
Our museum has a trivia walk set up for various parts of the city. There are historical signs throughout the downtown core. The idea is to visit the areas and learn more about the history. Not all answers are on the signs, but lots of information is available that is very interesting and probably not well known to people who haven't lived here for long. They have made it necessary to visit the museum to find out more by not providing the answer to every question on the trivia sheet.
This idea could be modified to use for various places that the children could visit.
Hunting for clues
At the end of June we have a special competition called Transformation at the Shore. Here, carvers change logs into carvings that later are placed around the city. It is always a great way to spend an afternoon or evening looking at the transformations and marvelling at what artists could create from a log and a chainsaw.
One year, my daughter brought her choir up for a festival and she asked me to put together an activity for them. I decided to create a challenge walk along the sea walk with clues and images for some of the carvings that were currently placed along the way. It was a great success. The children enjoyed the fresh air, and they had a chance to compete in small groups for this challenge.
These are just a few ideas, but they provide a springboard for thinking of things that can be done outdoors to relate to various social studies concepts. One more great thing about them, is that they can be done with families as well, so those who are learning remotely can still benefit from the activities.
You can check out some of my Social Studies projects here.
Watch for future posts where I will share some Science and Math activities with you.
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About Me Charlene Sequeira
I am a wife, mother of 4, grandmother of 9, and a retired primary and music teacher. I love working with kids and continue to volunteer at school and teach ukulele.