Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Taking Your Learning Outside

I am not an outside person - I would much rather be inside - but I like to get outside and I like my girls to get outside and get some fresh air and sun, for about an hour, twice a day.  That doesn't always work, but I try and make it work, meaning I make sacrifices to make it work.    If it ends up only being 15 mins each time, then that is fine too. 

I try and put those outside times in between bookwork/craft or TV time, so their brains get a break and their bodies can get moving.    It often helps to alleviate frustrations and bad moods, on everyone's part.   For that reason alone, it is worth the sacrifices made to make it happen. 

Our outside activities can be as simple as playing in the sandpit with sand and water and rocks, or we walk to the mail box or play on the trampoline or swings or bikes.  Raelee loves to play ball games.    I try to combine their outside time with hanging or bringing in washing, collecting wood, taking out the garbage, putting the dogs to bed, cleaning out the car, etc.  

Sometimes our outside activities include helping Dad with yard or farm duties or simply picking up sticks and putting them on the various fire piles we have around.   I will often create jobs just to get them moving.  

This week, it has been very wet here on the farm and there has been a lot of water running down our road.   So, between showers, we've done some lessons outside.

We went down to the road, just outside our front gate, and the girls discovered all the water.  Even on a freezing cold, windy day, children are attracted to water.

So, I let them play in it and Raelee, 7, decided she would try to make a dam to keep the water from flowing down the road.  

They used rocks and discovered that they weren't going to stay together enough to keep the water back, so then we piled on some mud and put some grass in with it.  We discussed how putting something in the  mud is like putting rocks and steel in concrete (which Raelee often helps her Dad with), and how people all over the world use some kind of mud and thatch to build houses and roofs and various other structures.  

As you can see, it did work to keep the water back.    But then they realised the water was running around behind their stream and breaking through in lots of other spots. 

Thirty-six hours later, after a lot more rain, we discovered that our dam wall was not high enough or strong enough, and all the mud and 'thatch' had been washed away.  

We discussed the power of moving water, and why the water was dirty in some places, clean in others. 

We discussed why dogs love water and mud and all the exciting things they find, like rotting bones and creatures to chase.     We tried to gauge the depth of the water by how far up the dogs' legs it went, so we could decide whether to walk through it.

We discussed the different patterns in the water and what makes them.

We discussed how, on this first day of spring, it was still too cold to swim.     Two days later, however, when it was still too cold to swim, and there was considerably more water, they managed to fall over and get soaked, as you do!  

We also discovered that after several days of rain, and two trips to the mud, we were running out of clean, dry clothes and boots!  And we discovered that sunny, windy days are good for getting clothes and boots dry again.  

Sometimes, we over-complicate life and think we can't teach our kids anything, but my girls have learnt a great deal this week, just being outside with me, discussing, asking a LOT of questions, experimenting, discovering, learning in ways that are too numerous to write down. 

So, all that to say, 'Have fun learning outside!'

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