Teaching Outside: A Guide to Lesson Planning

More than half of American parents (55%) believe their children aren’t spending enough time outside. Many parents believe (rightfully so) that playing outside will help their children get some fresh air, get away from their digital devices, and get some much-needed exercise. 

If you are an educator, you can help both your students and their parents by teaching outside. It might not be the first thing that comes to mind, since outside lesson planning is quite a different beast. Keep reading for some outdoor lesson planning tips. 

Scout the Area Ahead of Time

Wherever you are planning to hold these outdoor lessons, you will want to make a scouting trip ahead of time to ensure you know exactly what the area has in store for you. This way, you will know where all the rocks lay, what effect the weather may have, if it’s muddy or hilly, etc.

Early reconnaissance makes you less likely to be caught off guard in this regard. And you will be able to take better care of the children in your charge.

Set Clear Boundaries and Expectations for the Children

Make sure that all the children are informed in great detail what their purpose for the outdoor lesson is — and how they can achieve it. Don’t leave anything to chance. 

The more you can explain your expectations with the outdoor lesson, the less likely there is to be confusion.

It’s Okay to Be Silent While Guiding 

You don’t always have to be chattering away when guiding your children in an outdoor lesson. Let them explore on their own for a bit, and embrace silence while they soak in their surroundings. For some students, it might be the first time they have had a lesson outside, so the experience could be novel in addition to educational.

Have Plans for Bringing Them Back as Well

It will be easy to take your children into the outdoor realm so they can go tinkering about. But it will likely be harder to bring them back. You can speed up the process with an pre-established signal word, a whistle, or some other trick to indicate time is up. 

Bring Along Technology — Nature Won’t Mind

Ensure your technology, like cellphones and more, is charged up and ready to go. If there is an emergency, you don’t want to be dealing with a dead cellphone or a lack of signal. 

Understand That You Won’t Know All the Answers

It’s good not to have all the answers when leading an outdoor group. Sometimes it’s okay to say that you will explore or research the answer together when you are back in class. This can increase your children’s curiosity

Outdoor Lesson Planning Is a Whole Different Ballgame

If you have never planned outdoor lessons, it might take a few tries to master it. It’s not as straightforward as planning lessons in a classroom. 

Hopefully, you can use the outdoor lesson planning advice mentioned above to build exciting and interesting outdoor lessons for your children. Check out our catalog of outdoor learning equipment for preschool children to add to your school’s roster.

We strive to create fun and informative content that will help young children learn and grow. However, it's important to keep in mind that all activities should be performed under the supervision of an adult. The Adventurous Child website is intended to serve as a reference and guidance for educational activities, and it is ultimately the responsibility of the parent, guardian, and/or educator to determine the appropriateness of the activity for their child’s age and maturity level. Thank you for your understanding and support!