Urban Outdoor Learning

“Oooh, Ahhh! Will we get to wear those when we go outside?!”

Thanks to the generous grant provided by the  Grand Rapids Jaycees Foundation, Blandford Nature Center is able to provide snowshoes so children can have outdoor winter adventures.

On this particular day the plan at Godfrey Lee Early Childhood Center is to head out to explore, learning more about their nearby habitat.  The upcoming science unit has the students “sorting it out.

I explained to children that when we head go outdoors, we’re going to go to the place where animals live. “I wonder what the animals need to survive? I wonder what animals live there? ” Snakes came to the children’s mind. “What might a snake do to survive during the winter?”

It’s thrilling to set the stage for their outdoor learning.  We will still be in “class” when we head out there, but the sky will be the ceiling and the natural world will be your classroom.  Your job is to take time to collect different kinds of interesting natural objects. It is important not to pull up any plants or break off branches. The plants need to survive and trees are alive and can be damaged if we are too rough with them.


The children’s two legs transported them to a world of wonder.  They’re now off searching for natural objects that they could bring back into the classroom.  Along the way some other other discoveries were made.  It was exciting to see some fresh animals tracks. The tracks were formed in a walking pattern line.  The students observed that the back foot direct registered into the front footprint.  The paw prints had claws.  The students investigated the pattern in order to figure out the identity of the mysterious animal.

fox tracking

“A fox has been here!”




Beginning this year Blandford Nature Center began working to assist early childhood teachers in learning how to use the natural environment to instruct students in science inquiry in an interdisciplinary,  experiential way, using authentic outdoor learning experiences, to raise student achievement.


Stay tuned, later this week, I will share more to this story.  A former Blandford school student, now EL Math Coach at the Early Childhood Center, is part of the outdoor learning movement happening at Godfrey Lee Early Childhood Center.




2 thoughts on “Urban Outdoor Learning

  1. Pingback: Leaves for Play and Learning | Blandford Nature Center

  2. Pingback: Former BEEP Now Teacher | Blandford Nature Center

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