This is the second of two posts with ideas that incorporate outdoor learning into remote lessons, without the need for pupils to leave the house. These ideas are not intended to replace time spent outside, but rather to enhance it and to provide solutions for those who cannot easily get out. They offer a different perspective for pupils, are easily adapted for all ages and learning styles, and help to bring curriculum content to life. 

In our last blog post, we talked about the barriers to outdoor learning that pupils and teachers face when learning remotely. You can read it in full here. In our discussions with educators, we learned that it is not possible for many pupils to spend a lot of time outside right now. The current restrictions are partly to blame, but of course each family has a different situation that greatly impacts how much time their children spend outside. 

Some households have access to a garden and some don’t. Some adults have more time available to help their children with activities than others. Some pupils live in rural areas and others live in urban areas. The list could go on and on. The point is that in order to engage more pupils in outdoor learning activities, we must think outside the box, or the window.

 

Indoor bird watching

Photo by Tom Bradley on Unsplash

It’s not a new idea by any means, but bird watching is an excellent way for pupils to connect with the natural world from inside their homes. It’s also an inclusive activity that almost everyone can try, no matter where they live. Bird watching can easily be continued as a part of your school’s outdoor learning when pupils return to in-person learning. 

 

Getting ready

Pupils can take control of setting up their bird watching station at home by choosing their spot, making it comfortable with cushions or a favourite chair, and getting the supplies ready. The set up can be just as fun as looking for the birds, especially for younger children who enjoy creating dens and spy spots. 

Older pupils can take a more scientific approach to their set up and might consider the vantage point, the direction their window faces and the best time of day to watch to see certain birds. 

 

Supplies

Luckily, indoor bird watching requires very little in the way of supplies and anyone can take part. Here’s what pupils will need:

The Wild Trusts – Wildlife Watch

 

Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash

Bird Watching Time

To increase the chances of your indoor bird watchers actually seeing some birds and being able to observe their routines, it is a good idea to try this more than once. Bird watching works well as a daily or weekly activity for pupils, and while it is a strong stand alone activity it is also a great foundation for further learning. 

Set a minimum time to indoor bird watch based on the age of the pupils and remind them to get comfy and relax. Encourage pupils to open their window if it’s safe to do so and notice what they hear and feel. 

Then, it’s time to document what they see. Here are a few different ideas for that:

 

Practical activities to build on the experience

Photo by Andy Holmes on Unsplash

 

Outdoor Learning Support

We know that teachers are incredibly creative and are doing fantastic work, both in school and online. As we continue to see reports that many pupils are struggling to engage with remote learning, such as this one from June, we believe it is important to continue to share outdoor learning based ideas to support educators. Please let us know in the comments if you have suggestions to add to this article or for future posts.

 

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