Hi Friends! This is Autumn from The Primary Techie. Today I am blogging to you from my backyard. It is the first day of spring, and I am loving the beautiful weather in Arizona. Where I live, the temps get into the mid 120's in the summer and winter is very cold and breezy. My kiddos don't get lots of beautiful-outside-weather days, so when we have them, I take full advantage. One of my favorite things about spring is taking our learning outdoors. Here are eight of my favorite outdoor activities the just require a little sidewalk chalk.
1. From Worksheets to the Sidewalk - I have the kids work with a partner and give each pair a piece of chalk and a clipboard with a worksheet or workbook page. One student is the "teacher" with the clipboard and worksheet. The other is the "student" with the sidewalk chalk. The teacher tells the student what to write and solve from the worksheet. The teacher is responsible for checking the work. They take turns being the student and the teacher. This is a WONDERFUL activity for differentiation because each set of partners can have unique worksheets. They are spread out across the playground so they are not really comparing work or answers. This is a great way to review skills.
2. Walking Club Obstacle Course - I started "Walking Club" several years ago when I was trying to get fit. During recess, I just started walking laps. I quickly gained a group of students who wanted to join me in my laps around the playground. We took our walking club to the next level by adding fun challenges with sidewalk chalk. Usually, I let the kids draw obstacles on the side walk with chalk and we do the challenges as we walk our laps. They might draw tight ropes that we have to stay on, creaky bridges that cause us to lose our balance, bombs to avoid, or stones paths that we must hop on as we do the laps. This is so much fun and I highly recommend it. I have had some kids come up with REALLY cool challenges. To make this activity more academic, I have them write sight words that we can read as we walk, math facts that we must answer along our path, skip count challenges (count by 2's from one green line to the next, count by 5's from one purple line to the next, etc.) This is such a fun way to be active and practice some of our classroom skills. You can read more about my Walking Club on The Primary Techie. Click here.
3. The Illustration Challenge - Students use sidewalk chalk or sidewalk paint and I assign them a block of concrete along the sidewalk. They have to create an illustration from their favorite story. When they are finished, we guess what story they illustrated. This is also a fun follow-up to a class writing project. They can write their own stories in the classroom and then illustrate them outside. I read the stories to the class and they choose which story goes with each illustration.
4. Meet My Friend - I LOVE celebrating the kids in my classroom. Everybody loves to be recognized and get a little pat on the back. I have my kids work with a partner on this one. They trace their friend's body on the sidewalk then draw details on their outline. If it is too hot to lay on the sidewalk, we just trace shadows. Next, they title their work "Meet ______" and they write sentences about what makes their partner special. More advanced writers can write a paragraph. Beginning writers can make a list of words.
5. Make a Map - Kids always love creating maps! I have them make a floor plan of their homes, their dream home, or our school. They can plan their own city or amusement park. I love to see how excited and creative my kiddos get with these projects. We also include map features like compasses and legends.
6. Geometry City - Divide the kids into groups and have them create two cities - one where each building has a line of symmetry and the other where no buildings have a line of symmetry. You could also have one group make a city using specific shapes or attributes of shapes that you are learning about.
7. Measure It - Have the kids draw lines or shapes on the sidewalk and then have their friends measure the lines with their feet. They can record their measurements on the sidewalk. This is a great way to introduce non-standard measurement and discuss why we might have different answers.
8. Life Size Board Games - Take your favorite games and make a giant version. You can make a board game and let your students be the pieces. This is fun to play with big foam dice. Roll the dice to see how many spots you get to move, answer the question correctly to move forward. You can use this to review ANY subject. Work with other teachers to take turns drawing the giant board game that each of your classes can use.
I hope that you find some of these ideas fun and useful with your own group of students. I encourage you to look at your classwork this spring and try to think of ways to take it outside. Your students will love the change of environment and the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors. Please share your ideas and comments below.
Until next time,