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The late summer and early fall season mark a time synonymous with many endings. It’s the end of summer, the end of relaxed afternoons at the beach, the end of vacations taking you near or far from home. On a positive note, many endings also signify new beginnings. And with the beginning of the school year fast approaching, we’d like to remind you of an often untapped and overlooked source of learning — one that you can easily incorporate into your lesson plans, no matter the time of year.

Zoom Out, Refocus, Then Zoom Back In

Our outside environment is full of curiosity triggers that can be used to elevate kids’ learning experience. So, if the world is a classroom — why not shake things up and move your classroom outside? Of course, the world is a big place — so to ease your transition, we’ve prepared a few tips for you, coupled with some of our favorite outdoor lesson plans. 

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1) See the Forest for the Trees

We’re so used to our everyday surroundings, we sometimes forget any part of them can serve as great inspiration in planning lessons and activities for students. Something as simple as a walk in the forest can be the spark to a string of questions, discoveries, and insightful real-world learning points. Breathe in the air, get moving, and try to take a look at the world through fresh eyes — you’ll be surprised at what you can discover in familiar surroundings, just by shifting your perspective.

2) Get Closer; See the Trees Themselves

Were you ever fascinated with the idea that you can count the rings of a tree to learn how old it is? We were.

Nature tells a story — we just need to learn how to read it. 

Don’t know where to start? Here are two questions that can get you warmed up:

  1. Are there trees that are older than dinosaurs?
  2. Why do trees have bark?

3) Go Micro

Slow down. Stop. Look down. Closer. Even closer! We’re not saying to start making mountains out of molehills, but anthills — now those are something else altogether. We say there’s a mountain of lessons to be discovered in there somewhere.

So, welcome to the other side of your comfort zone. Out of the fluorescent lighting, with no marker or chalk in hand, and no stationary desks to navigate around — you took the step… Now what? The forest school revolution is definitely a thing, and now’s a time as good as ever to hop on the bandwagon. On your next nature walk, keep an eye out for the animal tracks you come across, and teach your kids how to read them.

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The world is your classroom — it’s all about where you look!

See you on the flipside.

Through Fresh Eyes: Stepping Out of Your (Classroom) Comfort Zone

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