Including Homeschool Lessons on the Hiking Trail is a great way to not only get up and out in the fresh air, but to include both exercise and learning along the way!
If there’s one thing homeschooling parents know, it’s that diverse learning strategies can mix up their time spent studying and be some of the most memorable and effective ways for kids to learn. Hands-on experiments, learning about life skills, and stepping out into the world to see biology firsthand are all great ways to teach new information and concepts.
National Hiking Day
Time spent on the hiking trail is a great place for learning, which is a wonderful reason to celebrate National Hiking Day. It’s a celebration of America’s amazing hiking trail system, which spans more than 66,000 miles throughout our 50 states, and the many ways that hiking can contribute to our mental and physical well-being.
Homeschool Lessons on the Hiking Trail
Hiking and homeschooling are a natural pair. Here are some of the subjects you can touch on through hiking:
A math or science lesson can easily take place on the trail, whether they’re counting rocks, identifying animal tracks, drawing leaves and flowers in their notebook to research, or even preparing for the journey by planning the volume of their water and food supply, and determining your hike times.
To calculate your hike time follow these steps:
- Determine your distance and walking speed.
- Add 30 minutes for every 1,000 feet gained in elevation.
- Make an estimated addition of time due to sightseeing.
- Add the numeric totals in Steps 1 through 3 to come up with an estimated hiking time.
Getting outdoors offers tons of opportunities for science homeschool lessons on the hiking trail.
Click on the image below for tons of FREE Nature Study Resources to help you gather information on your hikes.
Include Nature Study Options including:
- rocks and minerals
- soil studies
Two ways you can include art in your hike are
- nature journal along the way on your hike. Here are some more nature journal ideas.
- plan to stop and create a painting along the way
1.Writing can be accomplished with fun nature prompts:
- If you were a part of nature, what element would you be? Why?
- Spend 15 minutes outside observing the world around you. Write about what you notice most.
- What is your favorite season? Why?
- When you go outside, which of your senses are you most thankful to have?
- Do you consider yourself a nature-lover? Why or why not?
- Would you rather have your favorite season all year long or experience different seasons throughout the year? Why?
- What element of nature speaks to you the most? Why?
- What is your favorite place outside to explore?
- How does the weather impact the way you are able to enjoy nature?
- Write about your favorite thing that lives outside. It can be a flower, an animal, a vegetable, etc.
- What part of nature are you most thankful for? Why?
- Write a story from the perspective of a bird that can see the entire world from above.
- Write a short story about a leaf falling from a tree.
- Write a poem about your favorite season.
2. Writing can also be via a nature journal:
3. Also Check out this FREE Printable Hiking Journal
4. How about creating an acrostic poem for the park or area you are exploring? Fill in the letters of the name with things you see, explore, experience while on your hike.
Many areas have a history all their own. You might find information about Native Americans or early settlers. Or maybe there is a historic battlefield or homestead nearby. Be sure to check online as well as the park information to see what you can find. This is information that can be added to your nature journal!
Beyond the basic map skills you will use to find and navigate your hike, you could also experience elevation changes. If there is a visitor center where you are hiking, see if they have a topographic map you can look at and how elevation changes are noted on the map. No visitor center? Take a look online and see if there is a topical map you can reference.
Also, be on the look out for geographic features such as ponds and lakes, streams and rivers, hills and mountains. Are there any plateaus? Or are you near the water and notice any bays or peninsulas?
Taking photos is a wonderful way to document your hikes. You can take pictures of signs you see, as well as all the beauty to be found in nature.
Using a camera on your hike also allows you to explore the world of photography with your kids. Everything from framing shots and lighting, to artistic choices and photo editing apps!
There are both cognitive and psychological benefits to hiking. So be sure to count your hikes as PE too!
Like brisk walking, hiking is a good way to improve your cardiovascular fitness, particularly if your route includes some hills, which will force your heart to work harder. Taking a hike on the slightly uneven surface of a trail also provides a natural way to engage the core muscles in your torso and to hone your balance skills.
Not only are there cognitive benefits of hiking, but both kids and adults can benefit psychologically and socially from hiking as well.
One of the most impressive ways hikers benefit from their treks is a reduction in the brain function associated with depression. Time spent in nature has been linked by scientific study to reduced subgenual prefrontal cortex activity — this is the area of the brain where depression happens. For children, this outdoor time has the potential to improve their mental health well into adulthood.
When families socialize with each other on the trail, a lot of good things happen:
- There are opportunities for quality time with parents
- forming closer bonds with peers and siblings
- chances for kids to practice cooperating with a group to reach a mutual goal
Hiking is also associated with an increase in the frequency and duration of both social and physical engagement, so it’s a great exercise choice for both mind and the body.
Whether close to home or on trails unknown, a family hike is a wonderful way to learn and celebrate National Hiking Day.
To learn about trails in your area, visit All Trails.