Summer is here, so it’s the perfect time to explore the great outdoors. This blog from Harvard Medical School describes six reasons why it's important for kids to spend time outside. If one (or more!) of those reasons resonates with you, then take advantage of one of our activities below that will help you and your child engage with nature.
Track Your Favorite Trail
Find a wooded trail that your family enjoys (check out AllTrails.com to find a trail near you) and bring a camera and a notebook along on your hike. Take pictures or write notes about things that you notice, such as how many different animals you see or hear or where there are patches of flowers. Return to that same trail at various times over the next few months. For example, do an evening hike on a weekday, an early morning hike on a Saturday, or go on a sunny day and then a rainy one. Each time use your camera and notebook to document what you see and hear and how it is similar or different from what you found on the initial hike. If your family enjoys this activity, you may want to extend it and see what changes you notice if you hike the trail during completely different seasons of the year!
Create Your Own Scavenger Hunt
Before leaving the house, make a list of things that you might see outdoors. Your list can be very specific (ex: a maple tree), very general (something brown), or somewhere in between (a tall tree). See how many items on the list your family can find when you’re out walking or playing. For some extra fun, write your scavenger list onto a 5 x 5 grid and play Nature Bingo!
Make Outdoor Art
If your kids like to get a little messy, then this activity is for you! Bring an empty backpack or bag on your hike and fill it up with interesting natural specimens that you and your child find on the walk, such as leaves, pinecones, or flowers. Take all your materials back home and have your child create a piece of art by gluing the items onto a piece of paper. You could glue things down freeform, or you might want to challenge your child to use the items to make a specific picture or shape. Discover Sanford by scheduling a tour.
Spending time outside provides health benefits for kids, and it’s just plain fun! We hope you can use some of our ideas to provide learning opportunities for your family while you all enjoy the warmer weather. At Sanford, our beautiful campus allows our students to explore the outdoors. Here are some ways we use our campus to engage student learning.
PreK children collect beautiful leaves, feathers, and other natural wonders in the fall
- Lower and Middle School students tend their flower and edible vegetable gardens
- Science classes throughout the school explore the campus as a living classroom
- Art students draw inspiration from the natural world to sketch, paint, and photograph
- Third-grade Oregon Trail Pioneers celebrate, cookout, and square dance
- Lower and Middle School students love outside recess time, and all Sanford students love to play on our playground!
- Media students film outdoors, performers rehearse, musicians play
Seventh graders test their engineering skills with duct tape and cardboard in the school's swimming pool for the annual regatta competition.
- Physical Education classes use the nature trails that surround the campus
Patrick Martin is the Lower School Technology Coordinator and co-teacher for Outdoor Explorations for Sanford School and a Google Certified Educator.