Learning As We Walk

Learning In Context - Teaching The Seasons

Welcome to the May Teach/Learn Blogging Carnival, ‘Kids and Learning.’

The Teach/Learn Blogging Carnival hosted by Science@home is for anyone, because we are all teachers and learners. This month our bloggers have come up with some wonderful suggestions for fun things to do with your kids, ways to help them learn and thoughts on what learning is. Please read to the end to find links to other blogs, you might find a wonderful new blog to follow.

One thing that my part of the ‘burbs does well is autumn. Some of the streets on our walk to school put on a spectacular display of colour during this season. I have found the best way for kids to learn the seasons of the year is to learn them in context. Our walks to school each day provide the perfect opportunity to talk about how we have seasons of the year, discuss what season we are in and what signs can we see in nature that lets us know what season it is.

We can pick up the leaves examine their colours, see how the greener ones are still on the trees and the browner leaves are on the ground. As the weeks and then months pass, I will remind the younger children to look at the trees and see how many leaves are left.

In the past we have all taken guesses as to when all the leaves will be gone on a particular tree. For the older children I can then add “prediction” into the discussion, as we predict whether all the leaves will be off the trees before the start of winter on June 1st. (Southern Hemisphere of course!) All of this happens in general two way conversation as we walk to school. I don’t lecture, but encourage the children to talk about what they are seeing in their immediate environment, add pieces of factual information in context and enjoy seeing the older children explain their knowledge to their younger siblings.

As these conversations are led by the children, they can often move on to areas that I perhaps would not have thought to go. On a walk recently we watched a street sweeper, sweep up all the leaves. The preschooler wanted to know why they had to sweep the leaves away, for him they look pretty and are a great source of fun. As we walked along I showed the preschooler the gutters of the roads and how they have openings (drains) for the rain water to flow into. We talked about where the rain water will end up once it makes it ways through the pipes underground. Specifically for Melbourne it goes to the rivers and creeks where it eventually flows to the bays, so we talked about how it wouldn’t be good for the fish to have all these leaves in their water.

We then played street cleaners on the way home as well. The preschooler sat on front of the pram and used his foot to collect the leaves as we walked along!

At home we then used clear contact and leaves and twigs that we collected to make our very own autumn tree!

Taking the daily opportunities that real life provides for learning in context, is a simple activity that you can do with your kids. It will help enrich their knowledge, quite often without them even knowing that you are teaching them something!

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  1. says

    You’ve got me thinking. One way I need to be doing this for my older son at the moment is using the proper name for things in our day to day life, because I have noticed that he often doesn’t know the name of things and says ‘the thing you use for …’ or something similar.

  2. says

    I love the leaves under contact! This is great, the idea of letting your kids guide where you go with it. And stopping to really look and examine what is around us – it’s too easy to get caught up in where we’re going or something we’ve planned, rather than looking around and going with what’s happening at the time. I find it quite scary to not be prepared, but as you’ve pointed out, there’s always lots around if you really look.
    .-= Deb´s last blog ..Learning is a Journey =-.

  3. says

    I had read this post before I went out yesterday and had it in mind when we took our walk around The Briars at Mount Martha. There weren’t many different coloured leaves, but there were lots of different textures, so I would stop Princess and get her to touch them and we would talk about whether they were soft or prickly. Sometimes she would smell them. It slowed us down, which frustrated Dadda a little as we didn’t have much time, but it was what she enjoyed most about the walk.

    Warning: if you are going on a nature walk don’t call your destination a park. Young ones get very disappointed at the lack of swings and slides LOL
    .-= amandab´s last blog ..B-I-N-G-O is the name of the game =-.

  4. says

    Great post! In Forster the leaves don’t really change but since moving to the city and especially at university I love watching the change in the leaves. If I was working I would be doing this in an instant after reading your post!
    .-= Miss Carly´s last blog ..What’s In a Reflection =-.

  5. says

    Catherine – I am doing a lot of explaining at the moment with my preschooler. He wants to know what every sign he sees means and why it is there.

    Deb – I really treasure our walks to school. On the way back home we take it much slower and have much more time to explore, balance on fences and read the numbers of letter boxes!

    Monique – Thanks! Contact is such a handy item to have in the craft box.

    Amanda – I have made the mistake with telling the kids we are going to a park, when I meant a National Park and yes for the younger ones it does lead to disappointment.

    Miss Carly – It was only when we moved to this suburb 5 years ago that I actually started to appreciate the beauty of autumn.