Get Out There and Go: Active Learning in the Summer Months

By Colleen Brunetti, M.Ed., C.H.C


From noted child psychologist Piaget, to education pioneer Montessori, to today’s teachers; experts agree that children learn best when they are engaged and active learners.


Girl with Caterpillar
Signing Caterpillar

What does it mean to be an active learner? In essence, it means that children are able to use all of their senses when learning, and are active participants in the learning process. As active participants in their environment, they are tapping into their natural curiosity and desire to interact with the world around them.


Let’s take a look at creative ways to engage active learning using all of the senses, along with signs from Signing Time


Sight: Go on an “I spy” walk or drive. Talk about things the child sees in their neighborhood, and what those things are used for.  Integrate any signs you know, for instance those for LIBRARY, STORE, OFFICE, etc. (Volume 11: My Neighborhood)


Smell and Taste: Get busy together in the kitchen. Talk about favorite foods for BREAKFAST, LUNCH, and DINNER (Volume 12: Time to Eat) and explore eating a rainbow of FRUIT and VEGETABLES (Volume 6: My Favorite Things). Let children explore the different smells generated when cooking. Talk about what you are exploring! Does banana bread smell the same when it is mixing as it does when it is cooked? Does this berry taste sour, but this one is sweet?


Exploring the great outdoors
Exploring the great outdoors!

Touch:  Explore nature using the sense of touch. If your child is willing, try offering a blindfold and then handing them items from nature to explore with just their fingers. Practice the signs for such things as TREE, LEAF, GRASS, etc. ((Volume 4: Family, Feelings and Fun)


Hearing: Go to the PLAYGROUND and after the child has a good chance to burn some energy, sit down together and close your eyes. Talk about the different things you hear. Can you hear the sound of someone going down the SLIDE, or the squeak of the chain on the SWING? What does the SAND sound like when you scrape a shovel across it?  (Volume 11: My Neighborhood)

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