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I recently had the chance to sponsor an outdoor classroom for my local intermediate school. Given recent stay-at-home and quarantine orders due to COVID-19, I thought an outdoor classroom was a brilliant idea. I also loved the idea of bringing earth sciences to life by using the school’s vast outdoor space. Why look at photos of bugs in a book when you can look at the bugs themselves!
In order to honor this idea (and knowing that in some cases, going back to school means staying at home), I am writing about outdoor learning and earth science blogs.
The first blog I would like to feature is Earth Science Jr. While the entire site is great, the blog has cut-to-the-chase tips that are easy for parents to understand.
With entries like “15 Ways Kids Can Study Geology at Home” and “7 Mind-Blowing Backyard Science Experiments for Kids,” Earth Science Jr. can provide your student with ways to understand earth science in real life and get physically out of the home, even if they are staying at home.
All that playing with rocks and getting dirty in the backyard can be turned into knowledge!
Follow Earth Science Jr. on YouTube.
Childhood by Nature not only introduces earth science but also tugs at the heartstrings with posts about the benefits of nature and play to a child’s development. This blog is not just about a student interacting with the earth, but how nature is essential for all of us and how to interact, play, and exist with nature.
OK, now that all the sentimental stuff is out of the way, the blog still has cool earth science projects like “Make a Moss Terrarium.” For that project, the blog shows you how to harvest (who knew?), prepare, and transfer the moss to its new location. Then you can observe it “thriving” (hopefully!) in its new environment.
Another post encourages children to “Head Out on a Tree Photoshoot.” My favorite line from this post is: “If you’re a parent who values a nature connection for your child, we hope you agree that it’s important to help our children appreciate the outdoors for what it is, rather than reducing it to a backdrop for a selfie to share on Instagram.” In creating a “photoshoot” for trees, the blog suggests taking photos of the tree from different angles: the tree full length, then its leaves, then its bark. When you get home, trying using a free app to create collages of your trees as you research them.
Follow @childhoodwild on Twitter.
Lastly, another blog we love is Free Forest School. The idea of “Forest School” is something I would have really liked as a child. Time in the forest with a purpose, and the safety of structure, would have turned my “playing in the woods” into education without young me even realizing the difference. Luckily, the Free Forest School blog is available to kids today.
The post “Let Nature Be Your Children’s Teacher, Life Under a Rotting Log” transforms turning over rotting logs into exercises in gross and fine motor skills for younger children, along with an earth science lesson. The “Everyday Outside” series within the blog has inspirations for learning in the outdoors. The “Everyday Outside Inspirations VII – STEAM Learning Outdoors” post has a set of activities not just for earth science but for STEAM (Science, Tech, Engineering, Art and Math) development.
Follow @freeforestschool on Facebook.
If you have concerns about children and the outdoors, both Childhood by Nature and Free Forest School have posts regarding health and safety.
Wishing you all a great back-to-school season, wherever it may take place!
P.S. Ever wonder how we come up with ideas for our blog profiles? Our handy list of industries and subjects on PR Newswire for Journalists stays top of mind. If you’re a blogger or journalist looking for education news, let us know. We can customize a newsfeed for you.
Sandra Azzollini is Vice President, Audience at PR Newswire, where she has managed the experiential needs of users for nearly 20 years. In her role, Sandy oversees several of the company’s online properties, including PRNewswire.com and PR Newswire for Journalists. The websites have been honored with several industry awards, including two CODiEs; Bulldog Awards, Best Website; and Web Marketing Association’s Best Public Relations Website Award.