About a week and a half ago, I was asked to do some sessions as part of a K-4 student pro-d day. I chose to do a nature walk, complete with journals and guidebooks. It was a lot of fun!
I wanted to take the chance to write down some of my tips (and do-not-dos) of heading outside in the winter with a group of kids.
- Set boundaries and stick to them! Use a whistle or another attention grabber to get attention.
- Be flexible! Be prepared to walk where the kids walk, answer their questions, and go with the flow.
- Start and end inside, if possible. This allows you to introduce the plan of the walk before the distractions of the outdoors.
- Talk about poop. It is endlessly enjoyable.
- Have journals and pencils for everyone.
- Have at least one adult per 8 children. More is better.
- Do at least 1-2 minutes of silent listening outside. It helps focus the group.
- Remember to bring visuals.
- Go outside as often as possible with the same group! The kids will get into a better routine.
Do not do:
- Don’t be too strict about what they are supposed to do.
- Don’t give in! Set your no’s and stick to them – have consequences.
- Don’t expect every child to love nature.
- Don’t be passive!
Overall, the day went really well. We could have had a lot more time to explore. The brief list of things we saw: dog scat, hare scat, snowshoe hare, magpies, starlings, blue jays, chickadees, sap, spruce trees, pine trees, other shrubs and trees, human prints, dog prints, hare prints!
Our rough timeline was 15 minues in class, introducing to books, species, boundaries, and getting bundled up. We went outside for about 30 minutes, then inside for 15 to have hot cocoa, chat about what we saw, and how to use journals at home. It flew by!