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June 1, 2018

Outdoor Learning: The Do’s and the Don’ts!

Written By: Nicole Morelli
outdoor learning

outdoor learning

According to the Natural Learning Initiative by NC State University, “children’s social, psychological, academic and physical health is positively impacted when they have daily contact with nature.” This research proves that outdoor learning provides many benefits for children, so why not provide opportunities for students to connect with nature? To read more about the benefits of outdoor learning, check out this article.

Outdoor Learning is a new trend that is becoming popular in schools across the country. There are many benefits to teaching outdoors; however, there are also many challenges teachers often face..

Here is a list of do’s and don’ts that will help teachers plan to teach in an outdoor setting successfully!


  1. Connect your school’s curriculum to being outside AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. Children respond to the change of scenery, and the outdoors often lends itself to learning.
  2. Allow students to explore and observe. Sometimes students can teach themselves.
  3. Ask many questions. Do not treat the science aspect of Outdoor Learning like a brand new topic. Let your students teach you by scaffolding questions to guide their thinking.
  4. Use water resistant seating. There are many options on the market. Here is our version that can be used inside or outside.


outdoor learning


  1. Do not risk the quality of a lesson by bringing your students outside if you have students with allergies. Those students may miss out on the important information you are sharing, or might pull attention away from your lesson.
  2. Don’t underestimate the weather!
  3. As a former teacher, I loved to bring my students outside. I even had a sensory garden. I thought bright, sunny days were the best days to bring my first graders outside for a read aloud or for partner reading. However, I quickly learned that without enough shade, my students could not see the book I was reading to them.
  4. Weather related disruptions such as wind can also cause chaos. Days that are warm and windy sound nice and enjoyable, but if you are bringing materials outside, such as paper or other materials, the wind can also ruin your class’s outdoor learning experience.
  5. Don’t forget to give your class a bathroom break before going outside to learn. Not doing so, can cause some students to miss the educational piece that you prepare. Now that you know all of the positive benefits of outdoor learning and you are equipped with the do’s and don’ts of planning an outdoor lessons, you can let your class explore! Here are 30 ideas for outdoor lessons covering a variety of subjects.

Have you tried Outdoor Learning? Do you have  some do’s and don’ts of your own that you can add to the list? Please share below.

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