In preparation for our Fall garden the students began to talk about seasons and weather.  So the teacher took the children out into the playground area and created an outdoor classroom where the students were able to explore the things we discussed in class first hand. The surrounding environment is a source of knowledge that is often ignored in the indoor classroom, and when given an opportunity to experience things, they become intristic and memorable.  When place in this environment, many of the students noticed the clouds.

Isela:  I see poofy ones.

Tirza:  I see a dragon

Alex:  That one looks like a worm.

Nohea:  That one looks like an egg.

Alex:  Now the egg is touching the other one.

The students were given large clipboards so that they can begin to process their understanding of outside.  Many of them began to draw what they were seeing.

The outdoor classroom has provided us with a place for long-term observation as the students are learning how their activities affect the environment.

This sparked a lesson about clouds.   The teacher brought a table and some chairs outdoors along with a few pictures with clouds.  The students discussed the details that they noticed about the cloudsThe students began to recall what they had noticed before.

“We looked at clouds,” Isela told me of their last experience outside.  “We also looked at different shapes,” Nohea added.  Tirza brought the discuss back to the picture, “That cloud looks like a rock.” “Maybe a triangle,” Jaylin added.  The teacher talked with the students about Cummulus clouds.The students were offered an opportunity to discussed what they were seeing first hand.  This one looks like waves. The students then compared what they were seeing with the pictures we were discussing. 

An outdoor classroom is not only applicable when teaching environmental education, it also can be integrated into art, English, math, and science.

The students began to document what they were learning.  They began by drawing a picture of what they were seeing so that they could refer back to it.  They also made notes of what they understood.  “These are altocummulus clouds, ” Nohea informed me. “An altocummulus cloud looks like a wave, and they do not touch,” Alex added as she began to write down her thoughts. (notice the ‘doo’ for do not touch, we are learning that two o’s together makes the “oooooo” sound.  She heard that sound in the word do and spelled it on her own)Teagan used water colors to depict what a rain cloud or a Nimbostratus cloud would look like.

We will be informing parents soon of upcoming fall projects.

This activity focuses on the following learning goals:

*  Students write expository and procedural texts to communicate ideas and information to specific audiences for specific purposes. Students are expected to:

(C)  write brief comments on literary or informational texts.

*  The student is expected to:

(A)  observe and describe weather changes from day to day and over seasons;

(B)  identify events that have repeating patterns, including seasons of the year and day and night; and

(C)  observe, describe, and illustrate objects in the sky such as the clouds, Moon, and stars, including the Sun.

*  The student expresses ideas through original artworks, using a variety of media with appropriate skill.

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