Outdoor Exploring – Where to Start
Many parents love the idea of education being a way of life. They love the idea of the world being their classroom. They love the idea of having a curriculum that allows students to improve their retention by practicing skills they previously learned. They also love the idea of breaking down the barriers between subjects and combining them, such as art and science.
Organising fun activities with your family or inviting other families, will help you create community and discover the joys of homeschooling.
Here’s an example, a long-time favourite homeschooling enrichment activity – the nature walk. Here are a few ideas on how to add some structure to it so that it connects to the curriculum. The basic ideas are taken from the Euka science curriculum.
The Euka Foundation – Grade 10 science curriculum has a Term unit on Biology, every year. This might seem like an unlikely starting point for preparing for a nature walk but just wait and see.
Learning Scientific Observation Skills Through a Nature Walk
One way of structuring a nature walk is to focus on observations.
In advance, children can be asked to review the different categories of observations: quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative data refers to any information that can be quantified, counted or measured, and given a numerical value. Qualitative data is descriptive in nature, expressed in terms of language rather than numerical values.
Examples of quantitative observation include age, weight, height, length, population, size and other numerical values while examples of qualitative observation are colour, smell, taste, touch or feeling, typology, and shapes.
Ask them to make three observations of each type that they’ll share, while walking with siblings, friends, or you; or perhaps afterward over a snack. They can be asked to observe something about the plants or the wildlife or maybe, for older students, something about the relationship between the two. This can also be tied in with a writing exercise.
Studying Art Through a Nature Walk
This activity about observing matter. The idea is to go on a nature walk, collect leaves, and then categorize them across a number of criteria. Use the leaves in artworks by gluing them onto paper to make new creatures or patterns, using the observation to draw them, or use them to make rubbings with crayons. Simply put them underneath the paper and have your child use a crayon to lightly rub across the top of the leaf, leaving a colourful leaf print.
Excursions and Community Connections
The nature walk is just one example that may serve as a starting point for you to see how using the world around you can enrich your child’s learning experience. There are many more lessons in the Euka program that can be used as a launchpad for an excursion to further research or to apply knowledge learned.
Also, excursions can be combined with other families and with kids of different ages to make it a community experience. Where can you visit? Parks in your neighbourhood, hiking trails, nature reserves, and national parks! You may like to go “bird watching”, or to a museum. Other surprisingly educational places to go on an excursion might include trips to historical landmarks, train stations, and even the hardware shop.
Ask your kids to help with ideas of places to visit, and what could be discovered there. Involving your child in the decision-making process will get them engaged in the exercise from the very beginning.