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5 Outdoor Lesson Plan Ideas For (Almost) Any Weather

For most of us, bad weather is just a drag and nothing more than an inconvenience. But for teachers, particularly in the months when the sun finally decides to appear, it can be an absolute disaster that can ruin your plans for the whole week.

The forecast looked good, but alas, it didn’t turn out as expected. Not only were you looking forward to getting out for of the stuffy classroom for a few hours a day, but you had a whole range of fun activities lined up that also tied in with the curriculum.

What to do? Well, even if the weather outside leaves much to be desired, don't fret; there are still many ways you can get out into the fresh air and add life into your science and nature class. Here are five of the best:

1. The Outdoor Museum

The whole world around us is a museum — the only thing it's lacking is the pedestals and glass cases to draw attention to it.
However, you don't need any fancy equipment to draw attention and appreciation to the beauty of nature around us. With just a few pieces of cardboard, wood, sticky tape, and glue, students can give transform school grounds into displays, special one-off exhibits, and demonstrations that would be worthy of any real-life museum.

2. Signs Of The Seasons

It may be raining, snowing, hailing, or blowing, but rather than be a hindrance to your plans, the weather can be the central focus of what may turn out to be a unique and immersive lesson. Noticing the weather, the plants, and the animals, students can look around them to see what signs there are to indicate the changing of the season.

Is it still spring or now summer? Are there signs it will be a good one this year? Students can even write a poem or story to describe what they find.

3. Build A Cairn

Stones can be used for tools, decoration, construction materials, and most other things you can think of. Cairns, prehistoric, human-made piles of stones, is a perfect example of this and thus a great way to celebrate them.

Cairns have been used around the world for everything from marking trials or buried treasure to acting as defences and tracking the stars. This means they're not only a fun and active way to spend a lesson, but can be a great segway into everything from astronomy to geology. For the artistic students, they can also be painted — traditionally for visibility or religious reasons.

4. Leaf Rubbings

Everyone has made a leaf rubbing or two in their youth. What makes them so great is that you don't need to have many materials — just paper and a crayon — and you don't even need to know how to draw.

But what starts as a hugely simple activity can quickly lead students into the wonderfully complex science of trees. Perfect in Autumn and for exploring questions such as, 'What are coniferous and deciduous trees?' and, 'Why do leaves change colour?'

5. Cloud Spotting

It's important to learn this one early as come adulthood, cloud watching will no doubt become one of their favourite pastimes for de-stressing.
There are ten main types of clouds, named according to their shape and their typical height in the sky. For example, the highest clouds are cirrocumulus, cirrus, and cirrostratus. Cirrocumulus appear as small, white rounded puffs and usually sit in long rows in the sky. Their name means 'mackerel sky' as they can look like scales of a fish, and they're most common in winter as they indicate fair but cold weather.

To turn cloud spotting into a full lesson plan, print out some worksheets and see if students can spot the different types of clouds and match them up with what they mean regarding the weather and seasons.

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