Spring is in full force, and your students are getting restless. They are tired of the white walls and hard desks - they need a new stimulus. One of the best ways to re-engage students and get them excited is to bring nature to the classroom.
By incorporating nature with each of the five senses, you breathe new life into a stale, end-of-the-school-year classroom. You create relevance to learning, helping students appreciate both you and your lessons.
Spring is all about the visual! Stunning flowers, rich vegetables, green grass, and sunny blue skies call to your students. Bring flowers of all shapes and colors into your room, or grow your own. If possible, head outdoors for your afternoon lesson. Hang new pictures that are visually stimulating and motivational. Allow students to change the space, or even encourage them to create art pieces to be used in your classroom.
This is also a great time to learn about your state's symbols, such as your state bird or flower. Bonus points if you can bring live animals into your classroom. Contact your local rescue/nature groups and see if they are willing to do a classroom visit.
Open those windows and let in the spring breeze. Light a new candle for your students to enjoy, or bring in some fresh lilacs or other strong-scented plant. It is also fun to bring in herbs and spices in jars and let students see if they can identify them. You can turn this into a challenge game.
Being outdoors is the best way to hear the sounds of nature. If you are unable to take a tour of your school grounds or the local park, encourage students to spend ten minutes outside in complete silence (with no technology). You can also open your classroom windows or play videos of birds and other animals.
Students of all ages can enjoy a great sensory box. To make it more exciting for older students, hide objects under a black cloth and have them identify each using only their hands. Again, this is a perfect time to introduce live animals or head outdoors.
Have students describe the feeling of nature items such as tree bark and flower petals in a detailed adjective worksheet.
Students will appreciate you bringing in a fresh, spring treat. Fruit and vegetables are healthy, affordable, and easy to share.
If you make these small efforts to bring nature to your classroom, you will notice an increase in response from students of all ages. They are just as excited about spring as you are, and they are eager to enjoy it with you.
Let us know other strategies you use for bringing nature to the classroom.