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I love homeschool room tours and videos where mamas share their homeschool spaces. It’s always fun to peek into the learning spaces of other families and see how they have everything organized and set up.
We’ve always been a bit on the casual side when it comes to our own homeschool “classroom.” In the winter, we curl up in front of the fireplace in the living room. In the summer, we spread out on the balcony between the calendulas and the zucchini (yes, we’re trying to grow zucchini on our balcony–it’s a science experiment.) The kitchen table features prominently throughout the year. Other than that, we’re talking stacks and bins of books everywhere, games tucked under our living room couch, and a modest IKEA rolling cart rip-off that houses our math manipulatives and art supplies.
But the truth is, if you wanted to tour our homeschooling space, this isn’t where I’d bring you. You see, we’re only in the apartment for an hour of our learning each day, on most days. The bulk of our homeschooling happens outside. Here, let me give you the grand tour :):
The Fairy Forest Along the Creek Behind Our House
We may live in an apartment overlooking a parking lot, but we’ve got a secret world of wonder right out the back door. Just a five minute walk from our place and you’re immersed in a creek-side wonderland that stretches on for miles. Last winter, we built a little lean-to fort against a tree. This spring, other people began adding to it until suddenly, we had multiple huts and fences to romp around. We spend a great deal of time here, all year long.
The Horse Trail Up to Bear Creek Reservoir
If you walk past the fairy forest, you’ll find yourself on a horse trail that runs through the woods surrounding Bear Creek up to the reservoir. Full of wildflowers all summer long, these quiet meadows and clusters of cottonwood trees provide day after day of discovery and open-ended play. So far, we’re still within easy walking distance of our back door–no driving required.
Mini-Classrooms Along the Banks of Bear Creek
Along this hike, there are dozens of great places to stop and wade into Bear Creek. We dig for crayfish, watching baby ducks swim after their mothers, and learn to skip stones. The best spots offer grassy banks with dappled shade for spreading out a blanket. These are our favorite places to read aloud together and draw in our nature journals. (Learn more about the benefits of nature journaling from this post on Brave Writer.)
Lair o’ the Bear Open Space Park
A fifteen-minute drive into the foothills will bring you to Lair o’ the Bear and several other small parks further up Bear Creek. We love to go here in the warmer months to climb trees, hike up the mountains, and explore the riparian habitats of this beautiful corridor. We also run into lots of other homeschooling families here. 🙂
Who Needs Desks?
Blake is pretty clever when it comes to finding work spaces outside. This little rock wall at Lair o’ the Bear is a favorite for her. The rock slabs protruding from a retainer wall make a perfect desk for her nature journal.
Homeschooling on the Go!
We love bringing our lessons outside. Here, Blake is working on an STEAM activity from out Book Seed issue for A Rainbow of My Own. We keep tinkering materials in a zip-lock bag in my backpack, along with various nature guides, our laminated nature STEAM cards (which you can download for free at the end of this post), a small watercolor kit, our nature journals, and whatever book we are working on that day. Add snacks and water bottles, and we can be out and about all day, learning in our ample outdoor classroom.
Endless Adventures Await…
We are getting ready to start a geology unit in July, and I’m chomping at the bit. We live in such a great place to study rocks, minerals, and fossils! Red Rocks Amphitheater, Cave of the Winds, the School of Mines Geology Museum, Rocky Mountain National Park, Dinosaur National Monument, Garden of the Gods, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Great Sand Dunes National Park, Dinosaur Ridge…my list keeps growing. I felt like this when we lived on Maui, too. We had so many outdoor classrooms waiting for us that it seemed almost a shame to stay inside.
Of course, we can’t spend every single day running amuck outside. I work from home, which means there are days when we have to stay closer to the wifi so I can get things done. But the balcony works just fine on those days. I know our indoor homeschooling space isn’t Pinterest-worthy, but to me our outdoor space makes up for it by miles. I feel like we need to soak up as much as we can in the time we have in each special place we visit.
Do you have an outdoor classroom that you love?
Grab your free STEAM cards for nature play!
36 cards to inspire STEAM creations on your next hike or nature walk! Laminate, throw them on a ring or carabiner, toss them in your backpack, and go! Homeschool STEAM just got a whole lot easier. 🙂