Focus 12 : Markets as Fun, Outdoor Classroom

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Ask any young child if he or she wants an indoor or an outdoor classroom. ‘Outdoors!’ comes the instant reply. Even adults are known to be more attentive and engaging in an outdoor planned environment.

Can you recall one of your own experiences?

Many years ago, as a primary teacher, I took a Grade 3 class to the Serangoon market, Singapore. It was not just an outdoor field trip, but a planned Math lesson, with students bringing their worksheets.  Mathematics on the street, without calculators! Ever wondered how the uneducated street vendors quickly calculate prices even for 350 gms.? After completing interactions with vendors and doing additions, students then relaxed drawing scenes from their visit.

Many everyday problems require quick, approximate answers. Street-Fighting Mathematics teaches a crucial skill that the traditional science curriculum fails to develop.”
Eric Mazur, Balkanski Professor of Physics, Harvard University

Once as a tourist in Toulouse, France, I noticed a Kindergarten class at the local street market. Teachers and volunteer parents were at hand. And what were the students engaged in? With peels of laughter and some noses tuned up and squeaky, they were exploring textures and smells of various vegetables. On their worksheet columns they had to draw ‘Red’ and ‘Green’ vegetables. For a back to school activity, teachers bought fresh vegetables to make ‘Vegetable Soup ‘ or Soup au Pistou.

http://www.traditionalfrenchfood.com/french-soups.html

http://www.michaelppowers.com/prosperity/stonesoup.html

Kindergarten and Primary classes often have thematic play learning areas to simulate real-life activity. eg. market store, house corner, hospital etc. Thus after an outdoor field trip, children can transfer their learning in a simulated, creative classroom environment. Can you hear the young children play  ‘I want to be the grocer’ and ‘I will be Mummy, going to the market?’

Check out story books for children: One Bean, The Tree is a Plant, The Tiny Seed, The Cherry Tree.

http://the market mystery / read aloud /youtube

http://www.vegetables-for-kids.com/

Source: Internet. Kindergarten Dramatic Play area Market scene

When children go with their parents or elders on a market visit they can engage in multi sensory activities, reducing the boredom of walking around aimlessly or running between stalls. Parents can use this opportunity to teach their young children to touch /feel/pick up vegetables, check the price, talk to the vendors, learn about plant growth and care, likes and dislikes etc. Imagine an education centre with their very own farm and market! The process from growth to care and farming tips, to the plucking and pricing of the produce to be put up on the market stall. One HUGE learning game! Not only will the diet, awareness, physical and mental activity of the school improve , but it can be a great community involvement, besides hands-on learning.

Talking about Art students – Many times we see painters set up their canvas at a river side, near monuments or in green rice fields. Have you seen someone take centre stage at a market? Isn’t it a great package to unfold about culture, food, clothes, colours and people?

A Village Market scene. Source: Internet. Cameroon Art.com

What about cooking schools and fresh markets? If you’ve been to Italy, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand or any other country for a cooking class, a visit to the local market is certainly a MUST! My own experience goes back to Chiang Mai, Thailand. Along with 6 other guests and the hostess , we were taken by tuk-tuk to the local market to buy necessary vegetables and ingredients for the class. As we picked up fresh green leafy vegetables, chillies and rice – we were told their Thai names and uses in food.
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Sydney, Australia boasts of a very popular harbour side fish market and cooking class. You guessed right! Guests are taken to the fish market to learn about the varieties, before heading to the exquisite culinary experience.

 

 

Here’s a recap of how students (and adults) benefit from a learning outdoor at a market:

1. Children get outside and more active
2. Involves hands-on thematic activities
3. Creates opportunities to learn how to handle outdoor risks safely
4. Connects children to nature/farms/people/ community in ways making deeper connections
5. Teaches children about cause and effect through sensory activity
6. Provides a holistic development and love for eco systems.

Students play chess at a Farmer's market in Alamos.

Courtesy: Internet. losalamos/.dailypost.com Students play chess at a Farmer’s market in Alamos.

All you teacher and parent readers, I do value your comments! How did you like this post? What is your experience?

All content and images copyright Veena S. (2013 -2016) http://www.walktomarket.wordpress.com. Please see copyright disclaimer

 

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About Veena S.

'Travel broadens the mind.' I've been lucky to have travelled to many countries and also lived in a few. At times, it was a great eye opener, at times it was making new friends across the oceans. Embracing cultures, learning new cuisines and admiring different costumes has been a rewarding journey this long. At home I enjoy cooking, quilting and story telling.

4 responses »

  1. Hello Veena,

    As a teacher, I absolutely agree with you regarding the benefits of outdoor learning. It begs the question as to why, as educators, we don’t do it more often. For me, personally, I would take children outdoors much more regularly if there wasn’t the need for so much paperwork in advance. Spontaneous outings are impossible. If I want to take students to a nearby park, it’s amazing how much paperwork and rearranging I need to do.

    This having been said, I believe the learning I have seen on field trips is so beneficial to students. And to teachers, as well, for that matter. I have seen students demonstrate their understanding in such different ways when outdoors. Teachers gain greater insight into their students and students get to experience learning in a completely different milieu.

    Janet

    • So happy to read a comment from another teacher…makes this blog richer! True it’s all about paperwork and permissions. And working parents do not have the time and energy to spend ‘teaching outdoors’. Thanks.

  2. Pingback: In Pursuit of Self Awareness …..in 2016 | Walk to Market

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