Take their learning outside
From the moment that the COVID-19 coronavirus sent the UK into lockdown, parents have been scratching their heads for ways to home-school their children without boredom setting in. It’s particularly difficult given that we’re now well into the summer term, and it seems that kids don’t really want to be stuck indoors staring at textbooks or computer screens anymore!
That’s why we’ve drawn up a quick guide to help educate and entertain outdoors while the schools are closed. The activities below are primarily designed to benefit younger children, but anyone can get involved, including older siblings.
It’s a good idea to have a small tent set up if you have one – it makes a nice quiet work space, free from garden distractions such as bikes and ball games. Not only that, it’ll be a nice shelter from rain or sunlight, should you need it.
Patio space is perfect, but any floor surface you can use chalk on will work, so you can try the driveway or pavement outside your home if that’s your best option.
Blackboard chalks are ideal for a lot of the activities we’re suggesting – they’re versatile and fun for the kids to use so it’s really worth getting hold of some. If you don’t have any chalks, good ol’ fashioned pen and paper will do. Wax crayons and other standard craft supplies will be useful as well.
There’s not much else you need really other than some basic measuring devices:
- Ruler or tape measure
- Measuring jug or beaker
You should be good to go, let’s show you some ideas…
Add structure to their outdoor mathematics with a simple number grid. Chalk out a template on the floor or sketch it on a pad and ask your pupils to fill it in with the correct answers. The below example is for addition, but it works just as well for subtraction, division and multiplication.
Grow a plant
Kids love watching things grow. Teach them about the plant lifecycle by nurturing a seed and measuring its progress. If your child is competitive, why not plant one each and make it into a bit of race?
There are lots of options…
A classic primary school activity, cress seeds are available at supermarkets or online and grow very quickly – measure how much the spouts grow each day and record the results.
Another fast grower, kids will love seeing how it grows towards the light in dark conditions (try covering with an upturned flowerpot). Tastes great in a crumble too!
Sunflower seeds are also easy to source online or at your local supermarket. They need a bit of space, but look fantastic once they bloom. They’re likely to grow taller than the kids before summer is over!
Leaks / spring onions
You can get these to grow without soil! Simply cut off the stalk/root section and pop it in a small glass of water, they’ll spring up in no time!
This is a great maze game for small children that are learning their ABCs.
Below is a straightforward example. Why not replicate it on your patio? Go big with the grid and get them stepping from square to square. If it proves too easy for the little masterminds, think up with a trickier path for them to follow!
Pavement spellings (fill the gaps)
Take to the pavement for their weekly spelling test. If you’re feeling friendly, chalk out a couple of letters to get them started, and ask them to fill in the blanks.
Budding meteorologists will enjoy constructing their own, fully functional weather apparatus. Why not try out the three below?
- Rain gauge
- Wind vane
- Thermometer box
Instructions can be found on the UK Met Office website.
Obviously, this one is dependent on the sun turning up! The spring sunshine has been good so far, so have a bash at building your own sun dial, and trace solar movement while telling the time! Detailed nstructions are available from Sky at Night Magazine.
Hand them some chalks and let their imagination run wild. Alternatively, if you want to add a bit more structure to your lessons, get them to trace around specific shapes.
The messy option
Pick a leaf, grab the poster paints and smother it. While the paint is still wet, press the leaf down onto some paper for a few seconds and gently remove it. It’s tricky to get right first time, but after a few goes you will get some beautiful prints, showcasing all the intricate lines and blemishes found on the leaf’s surface.
The no-mess option
Find a hard, flat surface. Place the leaf on it and cover with a thin sheet of paper. Now, take a wax crayon and rub it all the way across the sheet while pressing down firmly. As the crayon runs over the paper, the raised areas of the leaf will appear, producing a reverse-print effect.
Use chalk to draw a trail along the pavement with a start / finish line as well as fun tasks to complete at various points along the way. It’s a bit like circuit training… for kids!
Some things to get them moving:
- Touch your toes
- Star jumps x 2
- Spin around x 3
- Jog on the spot for 10 seconds
- Frog jumps x 5
- Hop on one leg x 6
- Ninja kicks x 7
- Bunny hops x 8
- Blast off like a rocket
- Balance on one leg for 5 seconds
We’ve certainly all gained a newfound respect for teachers during this time. Educating children is incredibly difficult, particularly while juggling other commitments such as work and domestic chores. However, it’s important to look at it from a child’s point of view. They are isolated from classmates and craving fun – so getting them outside to discover new things is very important.
Hopefully our hints and tips will serve you well – let us know how you’re getting on by commenting below or getting in touch via our social channels.