Take Me Outside for Learning Challenge
Because not all classrooms have four walls
Join us for the SECOND ANNUAL TAKE ME OUTSIDE FOR LEARNING CHALLENGE. Commit to outdoor learning with your students – at least once a week from September to June with support from us and a growing community of educators doing the same across Canada.
There has never been a more compelling time to get outside. Outdoor learning provides better opportunities for physical distancing while offering a broad range of physical and mental health benefits for both students and teachers.
The 2020/21 Learning Challenge is designed to be simple and fun with tangible tools to help achieve success. The goal is to foster a community of peer support where educators (from public schools to child care centres to post secondary programs) can share ideas, lessons, and stories. You will have opportunities for networking and community building with educators across Canada, access to a curated resource list for outdoor learning, a monthly newsletter, professional development opportunities, a Certification of Participation, as well as an opportunity to win prizes for your class.
By registering for the Take Me Outside for Learning Challenge, you will receive 20% off Take Me Outside educator apparel, and you will be entered to win 1 of 6 $300 gift cards from MEC, a set of outdoor journals for your entire class, and numerous other draw prizes throughout the school year!
Take Me Outside for Learning School Year Challenge
Last year’s challenge saw 1,748 educators make the commitment to outdoor learning for the entire school year. Even with the mid-March school closures taken into consideration, educators still enabled over 870,000 hours of outdoor learning during the 2019/20 school year. Many educators even continued providing outdoor learning opportunities throughout remote learning.
How To Be Involved with the Take Me Outside for Learning Challenge
1. Get Outside Every Week!
Commit to spending at least 1 hour/week outside with your learners throughout the school year. It can be class time, extended recess, picnic lunches, field trips, or all of the above. You know what works best for you.
2. Join the Challenge!
3. Share your stories and experiences
We have created a Facebook Group where you can exchange ideas, share experiences, and see what other teachers are doing – we’ll send you the details once you sign up for the Challenge. We will also be highlighting outdoor learning experiences and stories from the field and ask you to tag our social media accounts and use the #TMO4LearningChallenge. Our goal is to have both platforms be beneficial to teachers in sharing resources and best practices. If social media is not your thing, no problem, you can still email us those pictures and stories and we will keep our website updated.
4. Spread the Word
We need everyone’s help! Invite your colleagues, download and share the Learning Challenge poster (English/French), or share publicly through your social media accounts. Let us work together to spend a cumulative 2 million hours outside learning in the 2020 – 2021 school year.
What Educators are saying about the Take Me Outside for Learning Challenge
“One of my students recently wrote a persuasive letter as part of an assignment, and for their topic they chose ‘why we should have more outdoor learning’.”
“I love it because it is a space where all can succeed, regardless of ability, language or experience.”
“students benefited so much! Here are the ways: self-regulation and understanding how nature can be calming, sense of wonder and connection to big ideas, movement and understanding the concept of space, loving nature in its patterns of weather and seasons, observation and awakening all the senses, sharing the experience with others!”
“I always notice full engagement when we take learning outdoors.”
Curious about the benefits of outdoor learning?
The prevalence of screen time and the demands (and desires) of staying connected electronically all the time is a prescient issue. It’s something that affects all of us. Finding balance is the key and getting outside offers such a wide range of benefits that we think it’s a critical component to finding that balance.
The physical benefits of outdoor learning are the ones cited most often and it’s true that getting outside and moving is key to our physical well-being, but it can also positively affect our mood and mental well-being. Outdoor learning helps break up the day that is often spent on mainly sedentary activities, thereby helping achieve guidelines for physical activity encouraged by the Canadian Pediatric Society, ParticipACTION and many others.
There is also agreement among researchers that spending time in nature and being active outdoors is beneficial to children’s mental health, and helps improve their resiliency, academic performance and social skills. Doctors are in the know too: physicians have started prescribing time in nature, because it can reduce symptoms of stress, depression, anxiety, aggression, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, diabetes and high blood pressure, and improve cognition and immune function.
Time spent exploring in nature also evokes curiosity and a sense of wonder. With less time spent outside in nature, children are losing opportunities to learn, explore, discover and understand our natural environment at a time when rapid environmental change demands we are better informed than ever.
Spending time outside is good for teachers too, of course, for all the same reasons. And the best part: being outside can be tonnes of fun, especially if you have planned ahead. Fortunately, there is lots of experience to draw from and we’ll be sharing tips and resources from folks with experience. If you want some immediate guidance check out resources from our friends at KBEE http://kbee.ca/outside/ – see the Tips and Tricks for Teachers From Teachers section!
Thanks to our Partners & Allies for supporting the Learning Challenge & the work of Take Me Outside
- Active for Life
- Alberta Council for Environmental Education
- Canadian Network for Environmental Education and Communication (EECOM)
- Colombia Basin Environmental Education Network
- EcoSchools Canada
- Ever Active Schools
- Green Teacher
- Nature Canada