Take Me Outside for Learning Challenge
Because not all classrooms have four walls
For the 2019/20 school year, we are launching the Take Me Outside for Learning Challenge to encourage and support educators across Canada to implement outdoor learning with their students once a week from September to June.
Teachers, principals and educators have been telling us they are ready to make a more significant commitment on outdoor teaching during the school year, but want resource support and a shared community to help stay the course. With that in mind, we have designed the Learning Challenge to be simple and fun with tangible tools to help achieve success. Our goal is to foster a community of peer support where educators can share ideas, lessons and stories, with the intention of inspiring others to follow.
Join the Challenge below and we’ll send you a monthly tip sheet and invite you to join our Learning Challenge Community where you can share stories and learn how others are spending time outside while meeting curriculum objectives. Your level of involvement is entirely your choice; we are here to be helpful if you need us.
And as a thank you for your commitment we are offering all participating teachers a 20% discount on our popular Take Me Outside T-Shirts. Sign up below!
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 class 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!
Confirm your participation by filling in our super quick form here. We’ll send you a monthly tip sheet and invite you to join our Outdoor Learning Community.
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’ll also be hosting a Twitter chat once a month to help foster this community. Our goal is to have both platforms be beneficial to teachers in sharing resources and best practices. If social media isn’t your thing, no problem, you can still email us those pictures and stories and we’ll keep our website updated.
4. Spread the Word
We need everyone’s help to spread the word far and wide. We would really appreciate it if you passed along the downloadable poster and info about the Take Me Outside for Learning Challenge to other education contacts you have.
If 1,000 teachers commit to this challenge and take their class of 25 students outside once a week for the entire school year, that’s 1 million hours of students being outside across this country – THAT is making a difference!
The Benefits of Outdoor Time
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!
For the health benefits of outdoor time (or the negative impacts from too little) check out the following reports:
If you’re not quite ready for the weekly step outside, then start with Take Me Outside Day on October 23rd.