Even though the sun stays a bit lower and leaves us more quickly during the winter months, that doesn’t mean that we can’t spend time outdoors and do some writing. Writing Project Teacher Consultants and National Park Service Rangers, we find that writing outside and in our communities gets the creative juices flowing, engages learners, and supports important connections. It is also fun! That’s why we designed the Write Out event that happens each year in October in the first place.
Write Out taps into the value of the outdoors in support of learning while also building on the importance of place-based writing and education. Research suggests that “experiences of nature boost academic learning, personal development, … environmental stewardship” (Kuo et al., 2019), health, and well-being (White et al., 2019). According to the Nebraska Writing Project, “young writers, in connecting to their own place and community, gain an understanding of who they are in their place, a better knowledge of the local history, culture, and geography, while learning to apply writing concepts … to an awareness of interdependence and interconnection in place and in writing.”
If you weren’t able to participate in this year’s Write Out, never fear! Here are a few cool activities that we saw during this year’s event that you might want to try with your family and friends over the upcoming months and holidays.
Make a Zine!
This simple yet powerful notebook is made of one piece of paper but provides 8 “pages” for writing and composing when we are outside. Find out how here: Go Outside and Make A Zine and then check out these examples of what some people did with them:
Create a 4-Leaf Palette Poem
Here is another simple yet ultimately flexible activity suggested by Dr. Kim Ruffin, a facilitator with Outdoor Afro: 4-Leaf Palette Poem. Inspired by the work of Dr. George Washington Carver, Kim shows us how to make a leaf palette that can be used as a background and inspiration for poetry writing.
- 4 Leaf Palette Poems from Philadelphia posted by @maestraphilly
- 4 Leaf Palette Poems from Ohio posted by @BetsyLWoods
Check out these writing prompts inspired by Dr. George Washington Carver for more.
Find a “Sit Spot”
Abigail Lund (@Mrsablund) of the Ohio Writing Project shares a local way of working outside where writers find their own “sit spots” to start their process by connecting to their place. Read more about how Abigail supports her students in Exploring Place through Writing; she has even done it virtually!
Spark your writing with other STEAM-y prompts created by National Park Service Rangers
National Park Service Rangers have been creating prompts for Write Out since its beginning. Here you can tap into a range of STEAM-focused topics and activities to keep you and your friends and family engaged outside for days.
This year, educator Rebekah O’Dell (@RebekahODell1) of Moving Writers made a handy one-pager from all the “sparks” that you can download to use; she also encourages writers to check out these STEAM-filled notebooks to inspire their process.
Hero image: Posted by @seecantrill on Twitter