The following article comes from Kenny Peavy, Regenerative Education, Middle School Educator at Green School Bali.
Connecting with Nature has SO MANY BENEFITS for both Teachers and Students! Ranging from improved physical and mental health to developing meaningful connections and relationships for social and emotional growth and well-being.
At the Green School in Bali, we are incredibly lucky to have Nature at our doorstep. Our campus is a permaculture garden and we are surrounded by thriving forests of bamboo! We also have rice paddies and a river running through our campus.
To top it off all of our buildings are built from bamboo! So we can naturally integrate Nature and outdoor learning into our activities and lessons.
By integrating nature into curriculum, activities, and school environments, we empower students with a deeper understanding of the world, a sense of environmental responsibility, and the skills to address complex challenges, ultimately nurturing well-rounded individuals who appreciate, respect, and protect the natural world.
HERE’S HOW TO DO IT!
Incorporating nature into lessons and activities can greatly enhance students’ learning experiences and foster a deeper connection with the environment. Here are some creative and practical ideas for teachers to integrate nature into their teaching:
- Outdoor Classroom Sessions: Utilize your school’s outdoor spaces for lessons. Conduct class discussions, science experiments, or reading sessions outdoors to expose students to the natural world.
- Nature Walks: Organize nature walks around your school campus or local parks. Encourage students to observe and document various plants, animals, and natural phenomena. Provide guided activities like nature scavenger hunts or journaling.
- Nature-Based Art: Incorporate art into your nature-themed lessons. Students can create sketches, paintings, or sculptures inspired by the natural environment. This can also tie into discussions about aesthetics, patterns, and design in nature.
- Science Experiments: Conduct hands-on science experiments related to ecology, biology, or environmental science. Examples include observing plant growth, studying the behavior of insects, or examining soil composition.
- Wildlife Observation: Set up bird feeders, insect traps, or small observation stations in your classroom or outdoor space. Students can observe and document the behavior of different creatures, leading to discussions about ecosystems and adaptations.
- Nature Journaling: Encourage students to keep nature journals where they record observations, sketches, and reflections about the natural world. This can help develop their observation skills and connect them with their surroundings.
- Planting and Gardening: Create a small garden within your school premises. Students can plant and care for flowers, herbs, or vegetables, learning about plant life cycles, soil health, and sustainable practices.
- Outdoor Reading and Storytelling: Take literature lessons outdoors. Read stories, poems, or passages related to nature. This can be followed by discussions about themes, symbolism, and the author’s connection to the environment.
- Environmental Projects: Assign projects that require students to research and propose solutions for local environmental issues. This could involve pollution, waste management, conservation, or habitat restoration.
- Nature-Inspired Writing: Encourage creative writing that is inspired by nature. Students can write descriptive essays, short stories, or poetry about their outdoor experiences or imaginary journeys through natural settings.
- Virtual Nature Tours: If outdoor activities are limited, consider virtual nature tours using online resources, videos, and interactive websites that allow students to explore different ecosystems and wildlife habitats.
- Nature-Based Math: Integrate math lessons with nature themes. For instance, students can measure the growth of plants, calculate the area of a garden, or analyze data related to weather patterns.
- Nature and Cultural Studies: Explore the cultural significance of nature in different societies. Discuss traditional practices, rituals, and beliefs related to the environment.
- Guest Speakers: Invite local naturalists, conservationists, or environmental experts to speak to your class. Their insights can provide real-world context and inspire students to engage with nature.
Remember to adapt these ideas to the age and grade level of your students. By incorporating nature into lessons and activities, you not only enrich their learning but also instil a sense of wonder and responsibility towards the environment.