Ecological/Outdoor learning Websites
Take Me Outside is a non-profit organization committed to raising awareness and facilitating action on nature connection and outdoor learning in schools across Canada. We believe in a future in which spending time outside playing, exploring and learning is a regular and significant part of every student’s day. We work collaboratively with other organizations, school boards and individuals to encourage children and youth to spend more time outside through various projects and initiatives. TMO’s target population is students and educators across Canada who we reach mainly through the education system. Our goal is to encourage schools to extend the learning environment beyond the desk and four walls and to use the great outdoors as part of the regular teaching practice. The ultimate goal is to encourage more time spent outside during the school day to counter balance excessive screen time and sedentary tendencies. Our programs are simple, fun and accessible to all.
I have had the amazing fortune to work closely with the Farm to School program through my work with SEED36(Surrey Environmental Educators of District 36) as well as at the school I work at. Farm to School brings healthy, local and sustainable food into schools and provides students with hands-on learning opportunities that develop food literacy, all while strengthening the local food system and enhancing school and community connectedness. They offer grants to get school gardens up and running as well as link community partners and farmers with local schools to bridge the connection between agricultural practices in the farming community to sustainable food source education in the school system.
The BC Tomorrow simulator is an educational tool that helps you to understand the process of sustainable planning to balance land-uses such as agriculture, oil and gas and forestry with ecological integrity. By looking at past and present landscape imagery, you will be able to see changes that have taken place in the past. You can also collect, geotag and save water sampling data, images, video and other observations.
Surrey School district’s indigenous education has compiled an extensive page together full of contacts and resources to help educators authentically infuse indigenous knowledge into the curriculum. I love the 30-day walking challenge Heidi Wood has put together. It’s a great and complimentary adaptation to Gillian Judson’s The Walking Curriculum.
The Columbia Basin Environmental Education Network is a network of teachers and community educators that bring environmental, place based learning to their region. Although, based in the Columbia Basin they offer a wealth of resources and connections to any educator looking to gain more knowledge about outdoor/environmental learning practice.
EEPSA is a British Columbia Provincial Specialist Association offered to all BCTF members as well as affiliate members. Check out a local chapter, professional development opportunities as well as a network of dedicated environmental educators from around the province.
The Children and Nature Network is a global network that is dedicated getting children outside as well as greening urban spaces. They have an extensive resource library, as well as annual conferences and connections to communities around the world.
Megan is a Richmond Teacher who does all her teaching outdoors. Her passion and knowledge for gardening and educating her students in an outdoor setting is inspiring.
The Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation strongly believes education is a critical component to conservation and with that in mind HCTF offers and supports the following education programs, grants, and other education initiatives. They offer amazing resources and support to educators looking to take their students outdoors.
he Kootenay-Boundary Environmental Education Initiative (KBEE) is coordinated by a committee of the Kootenay-Boundary Chapter of the British Columbia School Superintendents Association (BCSSA). This amazing website and network offer a variety of resources to help teachers take their students outside.
This exciting new Outdoor Hub is full of all kinds of inspiration – from free activity downloads to outdoor events listings near you and nationally, including training and festivals, plus research and information, and tons of external links. We hope that with your help this fantastic resource can grow – sharing & building the benefits of outdoor approaches for all.
Books and Printables:
The Walking Curriculum, by Gillian Judson
I stumbled across Gillian Judson’s walking curriculum a few years ago when I was just starting out as an outdoor educator. This book is a wonderful way and imaginative way to introduce your students to changing the way we look at our outdoor AND indoor spaces. I continue using this book as a September start up to introduce my class to mindful and observant walking.
For more information and resources on Gillian’s work please head over to: http://www.educationthatinspires.ca/walking-curriculum-imaginative-ecological-learning-activities/
Twig and Moth
I am so thankful for a wonderful colleague who introduced me to the stunning visual and education resources of Twig and Moth. This company has digital options as well as hard copy ordering. I have created a mushroom identifying wall, sent my students on a mini beast scavenger hunt with detailed cards full of information on each one and most recently studied patterns in nature with the help of the above visual and description. If you get a moment head on over to http://www.twigandmoth.com to check out all of these amazing resources.
Juliet Robertson’s “Dirty Teaching” and “Messy Maths”
I discovered Juliet Robertson’s Dirty Teaching after I was introduced to her book, Messy Maths. What I love about Dirty Teaching, is the little nitty gritty details about starting an outdoor program. Details such as creating boundaries, talking safety and respecting the learning area. This book also bridges a connection into late primary and intermediate learning. Most resources out there focus on early learning years, Juliet has taken that foundation and offers ideas and insight into intermediate and early highschool programs.
Both of these resources can be found on amazon as well as Juliet Robertson’s website:
Go to Apps for Outdoor Learning
This app is a great tool for identifying, classifying and mapping local species (both plant and animal). Being an early primary teacher, I find it a great way to engage the students in careful observation. We snap a photo, upload it to the app, map it and then we must search through visual suggestions to determine what we have found. When we have come to a conclusion we add it to our portfolio. Scientists as well as other people around the globe can then see our post and offer more specific identification or confirm our findings.
Seek by iNaturalist:
This app is a more interactive branch of iNaturalist. This app allows teachers to set up a class portfolio and then take different nature based challenges that engage the students in their local ecosystem. Each challenge earns different badges. It also has the classic iNaturalist classification and observation piece built into the app.
This app is perfect for personal use as well as classroom and caregiver purposes. I use it to locate different local trails within the school’s community. Each month I try and plan a class field trip to a local park or trail in order to connect my students to different ecosystems. In this app you are able to use location services to find trails within a selected radius, or map by city or country. Each trail has a detailed description of the area as well as written personal reviews from each place.
I was introduced to geocaching over 10 years ago while I was teaching preschool. It was a great way to get outside and explore different parks, trails and communities. As life went on, I forgot about this wonderful pastime until the Covid-19 pandemic hit. I rediscovered it and WOW has it changed. You can now download the geocaching app and although it is free, for 40.00 annually it opens a world of geocaching. This is a great way to teach students about mapping, community spaces, different eco-systems, as well as safety and respect for nature, the community and each other. You will need data/cellular to use this app but the website also teaches you how traditionally navigate a map and coordinates as well