Hiking through the woods this week I found myself humming "Catalina Madalina Hoopa Stada Walk-a-dada Hoka Poka Loka was her name!" and "Boom Chicka Boom! Boom Chicka Boom! Boom Chicka Ra Ra Boom Boom Boom!"
I had learned those songs about 40 years ago while in sixth grade at Camp Calumet during our school's Environmental Education week. Environmental Education Week consisted of the entire sixth grade class (about 70 kids) leaving our classrooms and homes for 6 days, traveling over 200 miles away and learning our lessons at camp.
My first exposure to hiking was climbing Red Hill and Jackman's Ridge during that week away from home. Canoeing, orienteering and cooking outdoors were some of the other activities in which we participated. We learned teamwork, how to live with people other than family and took on new responsibilities (KP duty and such).
We still spent time doing English Language Arts, Math, Science, Art, Music and more, but we did it hands on through activities based outdoors. I daresay, we grew up a bit that week.
I got to thinking this week as I went on several walks in the woods "would I have ever gone hiking, kayaking, camping or spelunking if it weren't for my Environmental Education Week some 40 years ago? I don't know....
What I do know is this....it is important to take our lessons outside for kids. We don't have to travel far to have them explore and learn from their environment. We can learn from nature all around us. Exploring symmetry in math is easily done by looking at leaves; learning about the cardinal directions can be done easily using a compass on the playground; classifying rocks can be done after collecting specimens outside; or writing poetry or journal entries can be completed after spending time outdoors.
Outdoor education ideas and lessons are limitless. During this Earth Day week why not try and find something outside your own door with your students or children!