Have you about had it with those four walls, two windows, and the stench of those white board pens that always seem to dry out?

If you are a teacher who answered yes to these questions it’s about time you bust a move and take your class outside for some good ol’ fashioned learning. Why outdoors? It’s hard for kids to sit still for long periods of time and taking breaks to go out and explore education in nature can help keep your students engaged, refreshed, and can promote creativity. Not to mention, subjects like math, science, art, and language arts can be applied in various outdoor activities. When students get the opportunity to look, feel, touch, smell (maybe taste if your school has a garden!) their experiences in lessons become memorable and something they can relate to.

But what will I teach, you may ask. Fear not!  There are several avenues you can go when it comes to teaching outdoors. Here are some ideas that are broken up by subject:

Class outside Image: Sterling College via Flickr

Class outside
Image: Sterling College via Flickr

Language Arts:

  • Write poetry outside and allow nature to be your student’s inspiration! Being outside can help your students practice their descriptive writing. Encourage your students to pick up, observe, and feel items like leaves, rocks, etc.
  • Teach about similes. Have students compare things in nature and compare themselves to nature. Have them answer questions like, “How is a tree like a flower?”.


  • Sketch outdoors either with pencil or charcoal. This is a great opportunity for your students to practice observation drawing. Remind them to pay close attention to light, shadow, and texture.


  • Play sidewalk chalk addition and subtraction.
  • Learn about x and y axis with sidewalk chalk
  • For young students, learn how to count and learn the difference between small, medium, and large by collecting acorns or pinecones.
  • Learn about measurements and fractions by making mud pies from nature. Provide your students with measuring cups, bowls, stirring spoons.  Don’t forget the recipe! Example: 1 cup dirt, 2/3rds cup weeds, 1 1/4th inch long piece of bark, etc.


  • Create a butterfly garden by planting flowers that butterflies are attracted to.
  • Learn about the water cycle! The teacher is the sun, hula hoops are Nimbus clouds, and (depending on where you are outside) the ocean can be the sand kickball area or bark playground. Learn how to play the water cycle game here!
  • Start a composting project! Set up compost bins outside. Teach students about the importance of composting and how it can help plants grow. Once your compost pile is in full swing, let your students identify the types of organisms that live in the compost. Here is a helpful resource for classroom composting.
  • Create a school garden or explore the garden your school already has! Check out our last post on school gardens.

Cover Image: Eric (EJP Photo) via Flickr