A change of scenery - especially when it involves learning outside - is a great way to reengage your 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students.
Below, find 11 different example activities for taking your classroom outdoors! All of the activities are educational - you will find ideas for taking ELA lessons, math lessons, and science lessons outside.
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2. Let Nature Inspire Student Writing
Give each student a writing journal, go outside, and have them write! You could let students free write or give them nature specific writing prompts:
- Tell a story from an ant's point of view
- Describe something you see outside using all 5 of your senses
- Describe the weather
- Write similes about a tree, the sun, an insect, etc.
Being outdoors can also inspire poetry writing! Have your students write a haiku about their experience outside. You can use this No Prep Haiku Packet to help. It teaches students about haiku, provides plenty of examples, and has templates to scaffold their own writing.
3. Go On A Parts of Speech Scavenger Hunt
Have students head outside with a clipboard, a sheet of paper, and something to write with. Take a walk through the neighborhood together, or let students simply explore the playground.
As they explore, have students list nouns that they see, and then list adjectives that describe those nouns. Then, have them list verbs inspired by what they see, and adverbs that could describe those verbs.
If your students have not yet been introduced to parts of speech or need a review, this mostly no prep Parts of Speech Resource might help.
4. Read Outside
Never underestimate the power of a change of scenery! Have students do their independent reading outside - or let them relax and enjoy a good read aloud.
5. Go on an ABC word hunt
Main Idea, summarizing, and theme are hard skills to teach and hard skills for students to understand. Curriculums often do not address these skills in a way that make sense to students.
Outdoor Math Activity Ideas for Upper Elementary
6. Measurement Activities
There are endless outdoor measurement opportunities. You could:
- Find the perimeter and area of different objects like garden beds, blacktop courts, fenced in areas, etc. (measuring tape might work better than a ruler)
- Measure the length and height of different objects in the playground
- Use chalk to draw lines of a certain length
- Measure the length of your shadows
- Find the circumference of different trees
7. Equations With Nature
8. Math Hopscotch
Teacher Amanda Anderson has her students create multiple hopscotch courts with different numbers. Each court focuses on a different math skill, like:
- even/odd numbers
- finding products, sums, or differences
Students spend a little time at each hopscotch court to review a variety of math skills!
9. Math Races
Get a set of cones and write numbers on them. The numbers you will write will depend on what skill you want to practice - see the ideas below for reference.
Spread the cones out around the blacktop or playground, and then split your classroom into small groups. Have groups work together to grab as many numbers of a certain type as you can. The team with the most correct cones wins!
You could have students grab cones that:
- are greater than or less than a certain number
- add up to a certain number (let them use multiple addends!)
- are factors of a certain number
- are multiples of a certain number
- are even/odd
- are prime numbers
- put numbers together to form large numbers
- make a pattern
The possibilities with this are endless as well! If you want, you could set this up more like a relay race.
10. Go on a Geometry Scavenger Hunt
Take 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students outside and assign them the task of finding:
- different 2d or 3d shapes
- objects with certain angles (obtuse, acute, right angles)
- parallel and intersecting lines
- objects with lines of symmetry
- patterns in nature
Outdoor Science Ideas
11. Trout in the Classroom
A teacher that wished to remain anonymous shared this amazing national program with me. Trout in the Classroom has all sorts of resources, free lesson plans, and more to help your students connect more with nature while learning.
12. Camouflage Caterpillars
13. Compost With Your Students
Teacher Annemarie Holmyard composts with her students and shared this idea with me.
Students can read articles explaining what composting is, weigh food waste and graph results, journal about the process, learn the benefits of recycling food waste, and more. This lesson plan that includes a reading passage might help you with the process.
14. Build a Nest
15. Grow Plants
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