One of the great benefits of a homeschool curriculum is that it gives moms and dads the option of combining their educational environment with the outdoors. Integrating nature and camping into homeschool activities and lesson plans is beneficial for everyone involved and it’s becoming increasingly important as more kids receive their education at home either from parents or through online distance learning.
We have collected some useful tips and activities to incorporate into your outdoor lesson plans. The following are suitable for all moms and dads at any teaching level, whether you are just starting the homeschooling journey or have lots of experience.
The following activities show how nature can be brought into the curriculum and aims at giving moms and dads some inspiration and creativity in developing their curriculum.
In your outdoor area, task the kids with creating art pieces from materials they can gather locally like sticks, stones, leaves, etc. Their art can be arranged on the ground, or they can use leaves as crayon stencils by placing paper on top of a leaf and rubbing crayon on the paper to capture the leaf’s shape as part of their work.
Similar to the above activity, older children can do the same but with a twist. They can collect natural materials like sticks, vines, and more, and use them to make a 3D piece of art, like a statue.
Take pictures of the end results, and encourage everyone to discuss their initial ideas, process, and final result.
Get the kids to find 10+ materials that they think could be useful for making something. Together, research online what can be made with those materials such as decorations, jewelry, air fresheners, mud bricks, and tools. Provide them with guidance in planning out what they are going to make if it’s needed, then let them work on making their products.
This task involves making something beneficial for any of the local wildlife. Depending on the location, your teens can design birdhouses, insect homes, opossum houses, feeders, or anything custom-made for the local fauna. After researching and planning it out, let them create their custom-built project either using natural materials they can gather on-site, or with wood/metal working equipment if it is available.
Instruct the kids to search for their 3 favorite plants and/or animals in the local area and help them to learn about the lifecycles or food and energy cycles these organisms have. They can then give a short presentation about what they learnt to the rest in the group, highlighting any favorite/cool/gross aspects that were discovered.
Your teens must identify, either through research or observation, the most common natural events that happen in the area such as hurricanes, lightning storms, fires, earthquakes, etc. They should then develop and give a presentation on how these events happen, why they occur locally, which physical forces are involved, and how they have shaped the landscape.
If you or your children aren’t confident campers, then it’s okay to take this into consideration when planning outdoor learning opportunities. It can help to go on a few day trips before an overnight stay, and you can gradually increase the duration of each trip each time.
Choosing a family-friendly campground can be a great way of finding a safe environment that provides young children with additional activities outside of the curriculum. Camp Jellystone is a great option, and you should look to see what range of option you have close by.
If traveling to a campground or pitching a tent out in the forest isn’t possible, don’t worry. You can still give your children great nature-based homeschool activities at a local park or scenic reserve.