Tips for Homeschooling Outdoors

This morning was so sunny that I didn't want to sit inside and do schoolwork with the boys.

It was bad enough that we had to go to the grocery store and since we only go every two weeks it takes us a long time to shop and even longer to unload the car and put all the groceries away.  It was 11 by the time I was finished with all that and I was itching to get outside.

I suggested a hike but the boys all started grumbling.  They really do not enjoy hiking lately and I knew if I pushed it I would have a battle on my hands.

The boys WANTED to do schoolwork so we compromised a bit and brought it outside.

We set up some blankets and settled down in the sun to work.  They had been re-watching the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone during a late breakfast and while I was working in the kitchen so I used part of that time that they were occupied to set up some blankets and a fun sight word activity for Evan.

A few tips to make working outside more enjoyable:

  1. Think about the work you'll be bringing out--  If we're just using workbooks we'll spread out blankets and make ourselves comfortable on the lawn.  If we're thinking along the lines of messy art or science projects, a game, or even writing we'll use a picnic table.  It can be frustrating to move half way through the work when it's just not working.  
  2. Check the weather-- OK, obviously you aren't going to work outside if it's rainy or snowy. But more than once we've gone outside with a few worksheets only to find that the wind keeps trying to blow them away.  We've learned to go outside for a few minutes and really check the weather.  We can bring clipboards to keep loose papers from blowing away, set up in the sun if it's a bit cooler out or hide in the shade if the sun is really hot that day.  
  3. Be flexible-- There are a lot more distractions outside and I know that all of our schoolwork may not get done.  They may wander off to play with toys, find a bird or butterfly to chase, stare at the clouds, etc.  I have found that allowing them to wander for periods of time and then calling them back to work is one technique that has worked well for us.  Other times I just go with it; we've told oral stories about the cloud and formations...  We've used butterfly and bird chases as a jumping off point to learn more about that species....  You get the idea. 
  4. Do something unexpected-- Often I'll bring out silly string, bubbles, or find a way to use their toys for schooling.  One of the reasons we usually head outdoors for homeschooling is because we want to soak up the sun and have a break from our normal homeschooling routine.  Nothing breaks the normal faster than something unexpected.  

Bringing Our Work Outside:

Shoot the Sight Word Game--
Once outside, the older two settled on the blankets to work on their math books while Evan shot the sight words.

I wrote all of his new sight words out in chalk on the driveway and filled a large bucket with water then put a water gun in the bucket.

As he read each of the words he filled a water gun with water and blasted the word.

 Having just watched Harry Potter he often shouted "Aguamenti"-- the water spell.

 Since most of these words were new he needed some help and I walked through with him. He knew a few of them right away and made a few new connections with others.

He enjoyed this activity and while working together we came up with another idea for practicing sight words this summer.

We decided that when the weather gets nice enough to swim I'l write up his sight words on flash cards and as he reads them correctly he'll get to jump into the lake off the dock.  I thought it was a great idea!

Shoot the sight word 

He really got into this activity 

Once Evan was done with his reading the older boys asked me to check over their math.

They both completed two more pages in their books and as I corrected, Evan sat down next to me to start working on his workbook.

He only completed one page today but he did it ALL by himself!  He subtracted two digit numbers with re-grouping and only made one small error; turning one of the 7's into a 5 instead of a 6!

He told me not to look at his book at all while he worked (and wrote down everything!) then he showed me the completed page with a huge grin on his face.  I often worry that by writing for him he's not really taking in all the math as well as he should.  

I guess I don't need to worry about that! I was so proud of him and even better he was so proud of himself!

The other two boys did great on their math pages too and headed off to play on the swings or with their bikes and scooters.
Hard at work 

His completed page (the answers with 48 were to be
Evan and I finished up his school day with a reading of Dick and Jane.  He read another 3 stories to me and, since I was preoccupied checking through the pages of Alec's math book to see what he still needs to complete, Evan had to hold the book, correct himself, and read it all on his own.  He did great!

Ian and I read another chapter in The Hunger Games.  He read the first three pages and then I took over and read the remainder of it to him.

Physical Education:
The boys played outside for a bit but we were so bummed to see the sky completely fill with clouds.  We ended up deciding to go to the library.  We had finished our book on CD while driving home from the grocery store this morning and we were actually running low on books, for once.

At the Library:
 Alec wanted to look for some books on Egyptian mythology and we spent some time pouring over books at our library.

We had an entire box of books waiting for us and walked out with a bulging bag.

Alec was so interested in his new mythology book that he could not wait to get started and spent much of our time at the library (as well as walking to the car and driving home) with his nose buried in it.

I was surprised to hear just how much the boys retained from The Red Pyramid and was glad to hear that they can't wait for book two The Throne of Fire to come in.

They were pretty resistant to the story in the beginning and I wasn't sure that they'd end up enjoying it.  Lucky for me, they loved it!

Learning on Their Own:
The boys settled down to watch the next Harry Potter  movie together.

When the movie was done the younger two boys wanted to go play outside with their wands.

They asked me to help them remember a few of the spells from the books series and I ended up printing off a list of them from Wikipedia; which Alec sat down to read cover to cover.  Alec and I talked about how most of the spells stem from Latin.

He had thought they were English since he noticed they have some different words like rubbish for trash or bangers for sausage.  He then asked me what country Latin came from reminding me that French was from France and German from Germany but he had never heard of a country that sounded like the word Latin.  We used Google to look it up and I tried to explain the origins to him.

Satisfied they went outside to hunt horcruxes using Alec's plastic sword as the sword of Gryffindor.

Linking Up With:

Small Victories Sunday Linkup


  1. Always fun to go outside for lessons. Found you at SocialButterflySunday.

  2. I like your son's curiosity! and thank god for google! haha.

    This sounds like a perfect day!! I would love to take stuff outdoors ....(although it's likely that i would be napping on a picnic mat somewhere!)

    Pinning to the Practical Mondays Board

    (PS: what is your name?)

    1. It's Joanne. I often thank God for Google and joke that I have no idea how people homeschooled before it! My kids ask such bizarre questions that I must look up answers at least a few times a day.

  3. Fantastic! We love learning outside or just playing! So, the real question for you is....did they find the Sword of Gryffindor?

    1. I know you guys are outside a lot; that's part of the reason I enjoy your blog so much! All that fresh air and nature... and of course the wonderful books you all read.

      All I can say is THEY think they had the sword of Gryffindor.

    2. I know you guys are outside a lot; that's part of the reason I enjoy your blog so much! All that fresh air and nature... and of course the wonderful books you all read.

      All I can say is THEY think they had the sword of Gryffindor.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Favorite TV Shows Growing Up in the 80's and early 90's

Throwing a Fabulous 70th Birthday Party at the Last Minute

Things That Make Me Laugh