Showing posts with label outdoor activities. Show all posts
Showing posts with label outdoor activities. Show all posts

Friday, June 29, 2018

5 Ways to Blend Technology Into Outdoor Lessons

By the time that many of you read this, I'll be fly fishing on one of my favorite rivers in Maine. Where I'm going there isn't any cell phone reception. Even though there won't be reception, I will still have my phone with me to take pictures. Sometimes I take pictures of fish that I catch and other times I take pictures of insects that are hatching. I take pictures of the insects so that I can later look for fly patterns to either tie myself (I rarely have time for that these days) or buy to match what I've found on the water. This is just one way that technology can be helpful in learning about the outdoors. Here are some other ways that you might consider blending technology into outdoor lessons.

Augmented Reality scavenger hunts
Create your own or have your students use a tool like Metaverse to create augmented reality scavenger hunts. Think of it like making an educational version of Pokemon Go.

Geocaching
Geocaching can be a fun way for students to learn about latitude and longitude, to discover geological features, learn or relearn basic math concepts, and to practice good digital citizenship. Go to Geocaching.org to get started.

Planning Through Digital Mapping
Use tools like Google's My Maps or the measuring tools in Google Earth to have students plan safe walking and biking routes.

Activity Tracking
The thing that jumps to mind here is using products like Fitbit or Strava to track how many steps you take or how far you've ridden a bike. But there's another option and that is the Google Science Journal app that kids can use to record observations about acceleration, noise, and outdoor lighting.

Recording Observations / Collecting Data
Sites like Project Noah were designed to encourage teachers to get their kids outside to record and share observations about that natural world around them.

Learn more about each of these ideas in my on-demand webinar, 5 Ways to Blend Technology Into Outdoor Lessons. It's one of the webinars included in the current Practical Ed Tech Summer Sales Pack.  

Friday, April 20, 2018

A Fun App That Helps Kids Learn How Animals Adapt to Their Environments

As the weather warms students start asking, "can we have class outside today?" If you're an elementary school teacher who has heard this recently and you're ready to get your kids outside for a lesson, take a look at Plum's Creaturizer.

Plum's Creaturizer from PBS Kids is a free iOS and Android app that lets students create fun cartoon creatures then place them into outdoor settings through the use of augmented reality. The purpose of the app is to have students learn and show how the characteristics of an animal help it thrive in its environment. In the following video I demonstrate how the app works (apologies for the background noise, I recorded this video outside to show how the AR feature works in real settings).


Join me next Thursday for a Practical Ed Tech webinar in which we'll look at five ways you can incorporate technology into outdoor learning experiences. Click here to register for 5 Ways to Blend Technology Into Outdoor Lessons.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Polar Training Scholarship

This post is a little bit out of the norm for this blog, but I'm sharing it because one of you might, like me, have dreams of adventures in very cold climates. World-renowned adventurer Eric Larsen is offering a "polar training scholarship." This scholarship will be awarded to one aspiring polar explorer who would like to learn from Eric during a week-long training camp on Lake Winnipeg.

Applications for Eric Larsen's Polar Training Scholarship are open now. The chosen recipient will spend one week in January on Lake Winnipeg with Larsen and his team. All expenses including travel, equipment, and food are included in the scholarship.

Applications for Education
Part of the application for this scholarship includes requests for social media profiles and "how/ why is this experience going to change your life." I would think that an adventurous teacher could use the angle that it will not only change his/her life, but that it could also have a positive impact on his/her students' lives.

H/T to The Adventure Blog

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Free National Parks Passes for U.S. Fourth Grade Students

From my trip to Yellowstone in 2006.
Every Kid in a Park is a National Park Foundation initiative intended to get students and their families to explore national parks, forests, and wildlife refuges in the United States. The program provides fourth grade students in U.S. schools with a free pass to all national parks (parents and siblings also get in for free). Parents and students can register for passes individually. Teachers can click here to get passes for all of their fourth grade students.

Applications for Education
As long time readers of this blog know, I am a big advocate for getting kids outdoors to exercise, explore, and learn. Every Kid in a Park provides an excellent opportunity to introduce students to the joys of the great outdoors. To help teachers get the most out of a park visit with students, Every Kid in a Park offers some suggested field trip activities in every state in the union.

H/T to LifeHacker.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Into the Outdoors - Videos and Lesson Plans About Nature

Into the Outdoors is a new site featuring videos and lesson plans about a wide variety of topics related to nature. The site is divided into six main topic areas; life science, farm science, social science, physical science, environmental science, and natural resources science. Each primary topic area includes a handful of sub-topics. Click on any sub-topic to find videos, lesson plans, and links to additional resources. Below I've embedded two videos from the Life Science section.



Applications for Education
In the email that I received from Into the Outdoors they mentioned that one of their purposes is to spark students' interest in learning about nature and getting outside to learn. In looking at a few of the lessons, I can see how you could modify them to use on local walking field trips.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Fun Snowy Activities for Students and Teachers

In my previous post I shared a video about the chemistry of snowflakes. Writing that post reminded me of some ideas that I've shared before for fun outdoor winter activities with students. A few of these could be tied into basic physics lessons.

NOVA, as a part of their program on Denali, has directions for building a snow cave and directions for building an Igloo.

Boys' Life offers a list of outdoor winter games as well as directions for building igloos and snow shelters.

Making your own snowshoes is an activity that can be done indoors with the final product enjoyed outdoors. Mother Earth News offers directions for making your own snowshoes. How Cast has video directions for making an emergency pair of snowshoes.

In the video below BBC Survival Expert Ray Mears teaches viewers how to make an igloo and what igloos were traditionally used for.


When I was about seven or eight I was given a copy of The American Boy's Handy Book(Amazon link). That book is filled with fun hands-on indoor and outdoor activities including an entire section devoted to snow forts and other snow-related activities.

Friday, November 9, 2012

What It Is Really Like to Climb Mount Everest

Image Credit: Carsten.Nebel
As many long time readers of this blog know, I am fascinated by Mount Everest and the Himalayas in general. This afternoon I stumbled upon a couple of videos of fellow Mainer Ed Webster talking about his experiences on Mount Everest in the 1980's. The videos were shot as part of a Maine NBC affiliate's program that features remarkable Mainers. In the videos below you will learn a bit about what it takes to climb Mount Everest. I have intentionally embedded part two before part one because I think that the part two has more appeal to teachers and students.





Applications for Education
I have always been a fan of introducing students to life-long sports like hiking and skiing (I used to co-teach an outdoor adventure course) because they are healthy activities that students can do on their own long after they leave school. My hope is that videos like these spark a student's curiosity about hiking, climbing, and outdoor adventure in general. 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Learn More About Geocaching - A Great Outdoor Learning Activity

Geocaching is a fun, educational, technology-infused activity that I have tried a couple of times. But I am by no means an expert (totally newbie would be the description) on the topic. Therefore, I asked Jen Deyenberg if she would write a guest post about geocaching. Jen has done extensive work developing geocaching activities with students and has a ton of knowledge to share. After reading this post I hope you will visit her blog to learn more about geocaching.

A virtual treasure hunt to get students moving and motivated to solve challenges with technology outside?  Using a multimillion dollar satellite network to find plastic containers filled with interesting learning activities? Get your students using orienteering, team work, and problem solving skills by using geocaching in your classroom!

Gecaching is an outdoor challenge which use latitude and longitude co-ordinates and GPS (Global Positioning System) satellites to find a hidden cache, usually a plastic container, sign the log book.  You use the website www.geocaching.com to find and download the co-ordinates of caches near you. You just need to sign up for a free account! You can use any device which receives a GPS signal to place and find geocaches, whether it is an app on a smartphone or a dedicated handheld GPS device. I use caches on the www.geocaching.com network to learn about history, geography, or the local area.  Most caches are hidden somewhere that is a place of interest, whether it is a beautiful spot, or a place of historical, geographic, or geologic significance.  It is a great way to learn about a place you are visiting!  This cache is all about two submarines from World War II that you can see when the tide is out, off the coast of Scotland:  Some caches have small prizes you can trade, or trackable ‘travel bugs’ that each have their own code, and page on the www.geocaching.com website so you can see where they have been and where they are trying to go.  If you take something, you leave something.  If you take a travel bug, a trackable item, you are supposed to move it along to another cache.
Dorothy  is one of my travel bugs, it has been in Canada and all over the UK.

I hide temporary caches, just for my students, in the school yard.  They don't have toys or travel bugs in them, rather they designed around content based learning outcomes.  I have the students design geocaching containers to hold pieces of a story to sequence and put in order, letter stamps to use to spell out vocabulary words, science experiments, or even math problems.  The challenge is to work in a group to find the caches, solve the problems in the caches together, all while using handheld GPS devices and being active outside.  Have a look at Trails Optional to see how to set up school yard geocaching and some ideas for content to put in geocaches.

Geocaching really appeals to students who might use a lot of technology but not be very interested in physical activity and the outdoors.  Skills of cardinal directions, distance estimation, map grids, latitude and longitude, and topography are all taught through geocaching!  Children of all ages love to use a tracking device such as a GPS device to lead them to a hidden treasure and learn in the process.

Jen Deyenberg is a primary teacher. She is Canadian, but is currently residing in Scotland.She loves to play with computers, read, swim, geocache, hike, and jog.  You can find her on Twitter
@jdeyenberg

Monday, April 4, 2011

21 Times to the Top of the World - Lessons About Mount Everest

The spring Himalaya climbing season is starting to get underway. This evening the Adventure Blog had a story about Apa Sherpa attempting to summit Mount Everest for the 21st time. I'm sharing this story because it reminded me of some good resources for teaching about Mount Everest that I've found over the years.

The Rest of Everest is a video podcast series for learning about the Mount Everest region. For their fifth season The Rest of Everest is releasing all of their episodes in 3D video. According to their site, this is the first 3D footage recorded in Tibet.  And unlike a lot of documentaries about Mount Everest, this season of 3D footage was recorded on the infrequently visited east or Kangshung face of Mount Everest. You need nothing more than a cheap pair of red and green 3D glasses to view the footage.

Google Earth has an excellent Google Earth tour of the South Col climbing route. The South Col route is the route that Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay used on the first successful summit climb. The South Col route is also the most commonly used route and the route used in the third season of Discovery's Everest: Beyond the Limit.

To accompany Everest: Beyond the Limit, Discovery has developed a number of interesting and educational web resources. On the Everest: Beyond the Limit website you will find interactive Sherpa-cams, puzzles, games, and climbers' blogs. The Sherpa-cams give you perspective of what a climber sees has he or she ascends Mount Everest.

National Geographic Expeditions has a lesson plan for middle school students about the history and development of climbing Mount Everest. The lesson plan also touches on the physical challenges posed by high altitude mountaineering.

A physical education teacher at the River Valley Middle School in Grand Bay Westfield, New Brunswick developed an extensive lesson plan about the physiological demands of climbing Mount Everest. The lesson plan is titled the Mount Everest Challenge. This lesson would be a great way to incorporate science, physical education, geography, and history into an interdisciplinary project.

If you're looking for an inspirational story to watch for yourself and or to share with your students, they don't get much better than this one. In 2001, Erik Weihenmeyer became the first blind person to summit Mount Everest. His book Touch the Top of the World: A Blind Man's Journey to Climb Farther than the Eye Can See: My Storywas a bestseller.
The story of his climb is told in the one hour movie embedded below.
Watch more free documentaries

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Physical Education in the Snow

Image Credit: Banff Lake Louise
It's winter here in the northern hemisphere and for many of us that means snow. This is the time of year when many kids and adults hunker down and do indoor activities. But it doesn't have to be that way. There are plenty of fun things that can be done in the snow. If you're a physical education teacher looking for some outdoor activities or you have kids of your own that just have to get out of the house for a little while, consider trying some of the following.

NOVA, as a part of their program on Denali, has directions for building a snow cave and directions for building an Igloo.

Boys' Life offers a list of outdoor winter games as well as directions for building igloos and snow shelters.

In this video BBC Survival Expert Ray Mears teaches viewers how to make an igloo and what igloos were traditionally used for.

How Stuff Works provides information about building igloos and a good article about the Inuit people.

Making your own snowshoes is an activity that can be done indoors with the final product enjoyed outdoors. Mother Earth News offers directions for making your own snowshoes. How Cast has video directions for making an emergency pair of snowshoes.

When I was about seven or eight I was given a copy of The American Boy's Handy Book (Amazon link). That book is filled with fun hands-on indoor and outdoor activities including an entire section devoted to Snowball Warfare and other snow-related activites.