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End the Year with an Outdoor Classroom

Jill Daniels
Science Department Head
Geneva School of Boerne
Boerne, TX

May/June 2016

Spring is in the air, and if your students are like mine, they’re just itching to be outside. The outdoor classroom is the perfect way to help students maintain focus as the school year winds down.

Plan out your final quarter with several outdoor activities and announce the dates to your students. You can also use the outdoor classroom as a reward for positive behavior indoors. 

Animal observation activity

A creek near our school attracts several different species of ducks, so I have my students develop an inquiry lab to study the behavior of the ducks. For example, the students developed a lab to determine if the ducks have a preference for certain grains over others. 

Macroinvertebrate study

What better time to study invertebrates than in the spring? Ponds, marshes, creeks, and lakes provide opportunities to study invertebrates. All you need is a field guide, container for sample water, and small containers to sort out organisms.

For more fun ways to learn in the great outdoors, you can plan field trips to the zoo, botanical gardens, or nature parks, or invite local experts to present to your class. 

Wildflower activity

Have students walk around the school grounds to find a variety of flowers, identify their names using a field guide, and create a table to list the characteristics of each flower. (See the sample data table below.)


Once the table is complete, have students create a cladogram of the flower samples. They can tape the flower down in place of the flower name for the cladogram.


Select a wildflower to dissect. Have students tape individual parts (petal, sepal, filament, etc.) to a sheet of paper and label each part.

Parts of the wildflower

Sample data table for wildflower activity


Lobed leaf


Parallel vein pattern

vein pattern

Petals in multiples of 3

Petals in multiples of 4, 5, etc.

Monocot vs. Dicot

































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