Homeschooling with the Outdoors in Mind during COVID-19

Written by Felicia Schneiderhan

A lot of us find ourselves suddenly homeschooling our kids.

In northcentral Minnesota, we are fortunate to have easy access to the outdoors, with enough space to respect physical distancing. We can take advantage of the warmer weather and light-filled days to study phenology, the science of seasons and climate, especially plant and animal life.

Dan Schutte, Environmental Educator at North Shore Community School in Duluth and owner of Shoreview Natives, recommends taking your homeschoolers for a daily trek in the woods for class. Bring along a journal, pencils and markers, magnifying glasses, binoculars, a camera, a ruler. Make notes and drawings each day of your observations, paying attention to how things change over time.

Here are a few more of Dan’s ideas for learning outdoors this month:

Visit a river or creek and see if you can find some bends in the river where erosion is happening on the outside of the bend, where the river has the most force. Downstream, see if there is a place on the inside of the bend that is making a bigger sand bar.

Walk along a river and try to draw a map of what it would look like from above.

Ruffed grouse will start drumming in the next week or two. See if you can hear one of the first ones in the forest!

New birds are arriving by the day. Make a feeder and keep an eye on it. Make a list of all the different birds you see, and what day you first see them on.

Watch the maple trees; they will be having some of the first flowers in our woods here in the next week or two.

Look around your house in areas where the snow has all melted. Can you find anything growing? If so, measure it each day to see how quickly it puts on size.

If you try one of these ideas, be sure to take photos and share it with us at Lake Country Journal and on social media channels. We can support one another during this time by sharing ideas, inspiration, and creativity. Tag @lcjmagazine and use #wearelakecountry.