In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks. ~John Muir~
What a simple activity is taking a walk. Watching our toddlers walk around the building, taking in whatever the moment had to offer: birds, helicopters, flowers, sirens, and rocks, never failed to bring my heart joy!
There’s always “too-much-to-do!” These days, teachers often forego getting outside with their classes; there’s so much to accomplish and the hours in the day slip by so quickly. I often felt the same when I was teaching, but I also valued the time spent investigating the outdoors. Happily, the pressure I felt to make meaningful learning part of being outside, led me to think of ways to accomplish not just academic learning goals, but also those skills that would help my students be engaged, curious observers and “questioners.” I wanted them to return to the classroom wondering about a million topics, so they’d be compelled to ask more and more questions.
This simple, high-interest, physically challenging activity continued to be a favorite of my students year after year. I loved it because it simultaneously develops listening, concentrating, decision-making, collaborating and team problem-solving. Structured just right, this activity also teaches deep observation skills that leads smoothly into investigations about how the rocks were formed, the rock cycle, volcanoes…limitless possibilities.
You don’t really need to prepare anything ahead of time. You can do it at a moment’s notice and with pretty much ANY age: You just take a walk, a walk with a very specific purpose: to pick up rocks.
Simple, No Prep, Many Learning Outcomes The Rock Walk is a simple game, but the impact of the learning is huge:
- It develops focus and concentration.
- It develops discernment skills using their sense of sight and touch.
- It develops critical thinking and decision-making.
- It gives opportunities to collaborate and solve a problem.
- It sets your students on a path to learn about geology and earth science.
- It will make your students happy and calm. (Well, actually, I can’t guarantee that. But it worked for my students year after year.)
It really is just taking a walk and picking up rocks, with one VERY easy guideline for the children to follow:
“As you (the student) pick up rocks, you can’t keep any rock that looks like one you already have in your hand. One of them must go back to the ground.”
While it’s a simple plan, adults guiding this walk will want to be prepared with some organizing details to set the stage for success. The full lesson plan is free to download so take a moment to pop it onto your computer.
Then, the next time your little ones are telling you they need a break from either the classroom routines or a long day in the house, grab a copy and get outside!