Posted on April 18, 2016
10 Outdoor Homeschool Activities
We started our usual homeschooling routine last week after our Easter break, and thankfully I am beginning to feel slightly better, although the pregnancy nausea is still there. We have had much more settled weather recently, and we were even able to do some homeschooling outdoors this past week, so I thought I would write about some of the related resources we like to use.
10 Outdoor Homeschool Activities
- Nature Study. One of the things we like to do most when the weather is good (or at least reasonable!), is to study nature. You can see my post with lots of nature study resources here.
- Gardening. Over the years our children have enjoyed growing things as simple as sunflowers to the slightly more difficult giant pumpkins we managed to grow a few years ago. We have been given several children’s books on gardening: Gardening with Kids and Starting Gardening (Usborne First Skills), however the best thing is just to get out and start planting, watering and weeding, I think!
- Painting. Particularly when our children were younger, I found that the garden was the best place for letting our children paint, as there was no mess to clean up indoors! We had been given an easel from Early Learning Centre as a present, so our 2 younger daughters used either side of that, with our older children using a small table and chairs. I think this would be slightly more difficult here on the island due to the stronger winds, but chalk drawing on our concrete path has been tested and is do-able!
- Woodworking. When our son was 10, we gave him his first ‘proper’ tool kit- a wooden set which I got on eBay, which included hammer, chisel, junior hacksaw, pliers and ruler. He has now ‘graduated’ onto more grown up tools, but still enjoys making and fixing things. Our girls have also gone through various phases of using basic tools to create things. Something that is easy for younger children to make is a simple car or vehicle of some description, using a block of wood, onto which you nail 4 metal coke or beer bottle tops near each bottom corner, to serve as ‘wheels’. The vehicle can then be coloured or painted however they like. We found this sort of craft really encouraged our children to want to make more, and our son went on to make bird boxes and bat boxes.
- Games. I am not mentioning here the many sports your family could be involved in, but we have over the years invested in equipment such as a badminton set, cricket set, basketball hoop, and even croquet! Particularly when our eldest two were smaller, they enjoyed command type games, such as ‘Traffic Lights’ (give the children instructions such as red, amber, green, then add in ‘road works’, ‘speed bumps’, ’roundabout’ etc.); ‘Port and Starboard’ (tell the children to go to different parts of the ship, i.e. garden, then ‘climb the rigging’, ‘scrub the decks’, ‘walk the plank’ etc.); and ‘Simon Says’. In fact, I must start playing these again with our younger two. I also occasionally give the children scavenger hunts, and if I’m feeling really enthusiastic (!), an obstacle course. We had great fun with our own mini-Olympics in our garden during the 2008 Beijing Games, and our children still enjoy more simple games such as hopscotch.
- Reading Rug. If it is warm enough to sit still outside (I may require a fleece for this one!), another favourite outdoor homeschool activity for our family is to take our picnic rug into the garden for reading. Whether this is for our current read aloud book, our history time, or just personal reading, we can enjoy learning, and soaking up some vitamin D at the same time!
- Photography. Our son and our 9 year old daughter have been particularly interested in photography, and have bought their own cameras from eBay. Our son’s most recent upgrade has been to a digital SLR camera, which he saved up for with money from his baking and egg-selling business. We have an older photography book, which is good for teaching basic principles of photography, (although not modern technology!), but sadly many of the modern photography books which I have previously borrowed from the library have not been suitable for children. So if you have a recommendation for a child-friendly, but not too basic, photography book, I would like to hear about it! I have also found a couple of photography courses online, including this one run for homeschoolers, which I am keeping in reserve for future birthdays!
- Astronomy. My parents gave our son a National Geographic Telescope for his birthday several years ago, which has been of huge interest for all of our children. Particularly now that we have moved to the island, we are able to view the night sky without light pollution, and we are also able to see aurora borealis (the Nothern Lights) at various times of the year. For several years running we bought this Stargazers’ Almanac, allowing us to see in advance which constellations and/ or planets can be seen from each part of the UK throughout the year.
- Map Reading. All of our children are interested in maps, although our son in particular went through a phase from about age 7-12 of pouring over maps, and even drawing his own fictional and non-fictional maps. When we started home educating, someone gave me the idea of putting maps under a clear plastic tablecloth on our kitchen table. This led to lots of interesting meal time discussions, and we could swap out the local map of the town we lived in at the time with maps of Scotland, the UK, or the world, which relatives had received free in their newspapers! We have Ordinance Survey maps of our island now, and waterproof map cases for taking them outdoors, along with easy to use compasses. This fits in nicely with our 12 year old daughter’s Exploring Geography in a Changing World book, and our son’s IGCSE Geography course. We have not done orienteering or geocaching as a family, but I think they are activities we would enjoy.
- Visiting Historical and Cultural Sites. This obviously takes more time, effort, and sometimes money, than the previous activities, but it is obviously an enjoyable outdoor homeschooling activity in good weather! We often go on trips to these sort of sites for family birthdays, and I try if I can to plan for somewhere that will tie-in with something that we are currently learning about.
These are some of the outdoor homeschool activities that our family enjoys in good weather. If of course you do not currently have good weather (as I type this it has actually been snowing on and off all day!), you can also see my post on Frugal, Screen Free, Bad Weather Activities!
Are there any other outdoor homeschool activities which your family enjoys? Please share them in a comment.
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