Mary Richards: Outdoor Learning

During this pandemic, we've all learned that fresh air is important for our mental health and well-being. A daily walk is a chance to allow the mind, as well as the legs, to wander. As a writer, I'm conscious that ideas often come to me while I'm walking around the block, not while sitting at the computer.

mrichThe same can be applied to the classroom. Move learning outdoors, and you'll give children time and space to look at the world in a different way. While writing Take Me Outdoors--a children's nature journal filled with facts, prompts and space to record adventures--I researched many artists, writers and explorers. I learned that, back in the 19th century, Charles Darwin would stroll daily along a "thinking path" near his home to sift through his ideas; young paleontologist Mary Anning discovered fossils and bones along her local beach; and Susan Fenimore Cooper's nature writing documented in precise detail the countryside she loved.

All this fed into Take Me Outdoors, which I hope will inspire parents, teachers and kids to go on some exciting expeditions. Some quick outdoor learning tips? Keep a log of activities. Observe closely and make detailed notes on where you've been and what you've spotted. Inspect plants, bugs, clouds, shells or trees, to learn about the natural world--why not create a collage with the objects you collect? Outdoors, you will explore with all your senses. While being careful, remember to touch, handle and feel; run, jump and play! --Mary Richards

Mary Richards is a writer, illustrator and publisher. Take Me Outdoors: A Nature Journal for Young Explorers is available from Agnes & Aubrey.