No matter what the topic might be, we all know engaging a class full of students is hard.
Here are 7 ways to start engaging your students in outdoor education before they’ve even stepped foot outside the classroom.
1. Prepare Your Students
It may seem simple, but preparation is the first step toward a fun trip.
Share pictures of the program site, give out a packing list, discuss the program schedule, and answer their questions. Talk about what they’ll need to bring with them, and make sure everyone has the equipment they need.
Starting a conversation about what to expect on the trip will start the wheels turning in their heads. Before you know it, your students will be imagining toasting s’mores by a bonfire, hiking under the stars, or launching water rockets!
2. Lead With a Positive Mindset
Set the tone early by being enthusiastic about the upcoming outdoor education trip.
Students will pick up on how you’re feeling about the program, and your excitement will spread to them as well.
You can also share your excitement about learning new things alongside them. Let them know that they will be learning from another teacher during the trip and that you will be there experiencing new things alongside them.
Nurture a spirit of curiosity, saying things like “Let’s find out together.” Learning together, students feel like you are on this journey with them. They aren’t alone, they’re with you, and you’re excited to learn!
3. Keep An Open Dialog
Students may feel a lot of different emotions around going on an overnight trip. It’s important to give them the space to express and cope with these feelings, whether it be excitement or fear.
Keep in mind that students come from all kinds of backgrounds and have different levels of experience being away from home or being in the wilderness.
Some activities you can do with your class to explore their feelings include:
Have an open discussion with students about how they’re feeling
Use journal prompts to give students time to write about their feelings
Provide drawing materials and allow students to draw and create images about the trip (this is especially useful for younger or disabled students who might not have a good grasp on expressing themselves through language)
4. Dive into Literature And Media
Students have trouble getting excited about things they know nothing about. Sharing media with your students, reading books about the outdoors, and watching videos will help jump-start their imaginations.
While there are plenty of great media out there to choose from, we want to share some of our favorites with you.
Lead discussions about this media with your students and see how their curiosity flourishes!
5. Weave Outdoor Education Topics into Lessons
Including outdoor education topics in your lessons is a great way to get students excited about their upcoming trip. At Nature’s Classroom, we lead a lot of programs that can also be taught inside the classroom.
6. Form Teams And Buddies Before Your Trip
Everyone needs to feel supported and included, especially on a new adventure. Make sure students feel included before the trip by creating trip buddies or teams of students to look out for each other.
For our overnight programs, we place students in different bunks together.
Outdoor education is a largely social experience, and it’s best if students go into that experience with people they know they can talk to. What’s more exciting than making new friends?
7. Emphasize Choice
Remind students that they are in control of their experience during outdoor education. If there is something they don’t want to do, they don’t have to do it.
Let them know that you have their backs, and you will support them in any decisions they make about the program. Share with students the different activities and classes they can choose while in the program: there’s something for everyone!
Students don’t always have a choice over exactly what they learn. It’s exciting to have more choices in the outdoor education program!
Students don’t have to do anything they don’t want to do!
They will have free time. Every site is unique and they can explore different things. gaga pits, hanging out by a pond.
Outdoor education is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and we want to help your students appreciate every second.
Want to learn more about how we can craft a specialized program for your classes’ specific needs? Reach out to us!