Getting Started with Outdoor Learning: A Different Approach and Knowing What to Expect

In partnership with the Nature-Based Education Consortium (NBEC), CREA produced a series of three short videos¬† to make outdoor teaching more accessible to teachers. The series, Getting Started with Outdoor Learning, is available on NBEC’s website and here on CREA’s website.

Part 1: Stepping out the Door, addresses basic supplies, logistics, and routines needed when taking students outdoors. Part 2: Simple Activities, offers a number of activities that can be repeated multiple times over the course of a year. Part 3: A Different Approach and Knowing What to Expect highlights some teaching approaches unique to outdoor teaching, and tips for dealing with common issues encountered when outside.

In this video, Part 3, Sarah and Carey suggest a different approach when teaching outdoors, including:

  • Model a sense of wonder
  • Let students make the discoveries
  • Expect the unexpected
  • Accept that outdoor learning looks different
  • Allow healthy risk taking

Outside in nature, share your enthusiasm, ask students questions, and don’t worry about naming things. Encourage students to use their senses and observational skills when they see things that interest them.

Facilitate and validate discoveries rather than actively teaching.

Expect the unexpected and use it as a teaching moment. Be prepared to delay or abandon the lesson plan.

Get comfortable with behavior that might look different from classroom behavior – it often means students are very engaged.

Facilitate healthy risk-taking. Many outdoor activities are healthy and can be allowed.

Finally, Sarah and Carey identify common outdoor challenges and how to deal with them (weather, ticks, sticks, etc).