The Grade One class at Parkdale School has been taking their learning outdoors this year. Two afternoons a week they head out to Ashoro Park where they continue their learning in the fresh air. Mrs. Ritchie strategically plans activities for the students to participate in to develop and enhance their literacy and numeracy skills. There are many things to learn when they are outside, and sometimes their Grade Four buddies will join them.
The learning begins with exploring the park. The majority of the lessons have the students moving while they are learning.
This year so far they have learned about: the seasons and noticing and observing the changes that are occurring, syllables in words are taught through scavenger hunts where they will look for examples of words that contain a certain number of syllables, the students become oral storytellers as they use their imaginations to build and then need to tell the story behind it, and for math, they create patterns and count and notice the different shapes in the environment. They are learning all of this material in a real-world context.
The students are taught the importance of being kind to one another as they learn in the great outdoors. They also learn that being outside in nature helps to regulate their emotions so they are better able to learn the concepts being taught. Learning to understand our emotions helps us to be able to name and understand what we are feeling and what we need in order to regulate. Respecting nature and each other is also a valuable lesson that is taught daily.
The Grade One class has cohorted with the Grade 4 class. During these combined outdoor classroom lessons the students learn to work together. The Grade 4s are taught about jobs and responsibility as they are partnered with a Grade 1 student. Part of their responsibility is to support the learning of the concepts. This encourages relationship building with each other as they learn the skill of working together. With the fresh snow, the students recently worked together to build snow people in the park.