Many people think that learning happens only in a classroom in front of a teacher. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Learning doesn’t just take place in a school. It can take place anywhere and with anyone. It is well known that real-world experiences are the best way to learn! We, the adults, need to understand how to craft those experiences to help students pick up information in a fun way.
For example, I took my children to the zoo this weekend. The zoo is not a new experience for them. However, we do different activates each time we go. My son is currently learning about subjects and predicates in school, so I wanted to reinforce that topic at home. All I needed was a notebook and pencil.
As we viewed each animal, I asked him to read the animal’s description podium.
He copied down some facts about the animal and identified the subjects and predicates within the copied sentences.
He then had to create sentences of his own and identify those subjects and predicates. My son is only in the second grade, so his sentences were not that long. Nevertheless, he learned more about subjects and predicates at the zoo than he learned in a classroom. This same technique can be done at a park, a museum, a concert, a family barbeque, a mall, or even Grandma’s house! The possibilities are endless.
Below are some ideas to help you turn your outing into a learning experience!
Summarize it! Have your students summarize the events of your day in chronological order. Many people do not want to stop and learn at Disney World or Legoland. There is way too much going on! That’s okay! Later, at the kitchen table, students can summarize their day in chronological order. This may seem like a simple idea, but students need to write using vivid details and descriptions. Describing events vividly and in order are skills that will be useful throughout their entire lives.
Turn it into math. Word problems are challenging for many kids. It is so important for adults to help kids think critically by asking them pertinent questions on the go. For example, I often ask my son to count the number of cars he sees in a parking lot. Then I ask him how many cars would be leftover if I took five or six away. He loves to be challenged and works hard to get the answer right. My daughter is in kindergarten and is learning to add and subtract. I have her count the animals at the zoo. If one animal disappears from our view (which happens way too often in the heat), I ask her how many we have left since one went away.
State your claim. Gift shops are everywhere! My son is always trying to convince me to buy him a toy at the store wherever we go. Over lunch, I ask him to write a persuasive paragraph convincing me to buy him that toy. He must have valid reasons and evidence that convince me to buy him a toy. He struggles to develop great ideas, but this kind of productive struggle produces a critical thinker! As I read his writing, I explain why his views are or are not persuasive, which is a teachable moment.
These are just a few ways to make learning fun on the go! Try a few of them, and let me know how it goes.