Take Me Outside for Learning Challenge
Because not all classrooms have four walls!
The 5TH ANNUAL TAKE ME OUTSIDE FOR LEARNING CHALLENGE is underway! Participating educators make a commitment to outdoor learning with their learners – at least once a week from September to June with support from us and a growing community of educators doing the same across North America.
There has never been a more compelling case to get outside. Outdoor learning is engaging, safe, and fun for all ages, while providing a broad range of physical and mental health benefits for both learners and educators.
The 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 all walks of life and education systems (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 North America, access to a curated resource list for outdoor learning, a twice-monthly newsletter, professional development opportunities, resource discounts to the TMO Store and the Outdoor Learning Store, a Certification of Participation, as well as an opportunity to win prizes for you and your learners.
By registering for the Take Me Outside for Learning Challenge, you receive 20% off Take Me Outside educator apparel, 5% off at the Outdoor Learning Store, and are entered some amazing prizes (see below)!
How To Be Involved with the Take Me Outside for Learning Challenge
1. Sign up every fall
Please note: Registration is now closed for the 2023-24 school year. Thank you!
2. Get outside every week!
Make a goal and 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. Need ideas? Click here for a curated list of our favourite resources to start your journey!
Did you know? By signing up for the Learning Challenge, you are automatically signed up for our annual Take Me Outside Day – a celebration of outdoor learning which happens every October! If you want a recap of 2023, check out all the recordings and resource here.
3. Share your stories and experiences
We have created Facebook Groups in English and French where you can exchange ideas, share experiences, and see what other teachers are doing – feel free to join in and make it your own! 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 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, or share publicly through your social media accounts. Let us work together to spend as much time as possible outside learning in the 2023/24 school year.
We are really excited to be able to offer some incredible prizes for educators who participate in the Take Me Outside for Learning Challenge! Two grand prize winners will be chosen at the end of the challenge: One lucky winner will win a 4 day trip to Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada, and another will receive $500 to spend at the Outdoor Learning Store! Many thanks to the Banff Lodging Company and the Pacific Foundation for Understanding Nature Society (Pac FUNS) for their generous donations towards the prizes. Click here to learn more. And we’ll have lots more prizes happening each month for participants!
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 tons 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!
Thank you to our partners and allies for their support!