The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

Reading in the Sunshine

My classroom is small and dark. Even though we have a large bank of windows along one wall, the trees outside block the direct sunlight and allow only limited amounts of light to filter through, except in the early morning when the sun is still low enough to beam beneath the trees.

With twenty-six students, the room feels really cramped nearly every day, but we tend to deal with it because we don’t have any other option.


We went outside for recess this afternoon, and it was ridiculously nice outside. The temperature was in the upper-50s (Fahrenheit, of course), the sun was shining brightly, and there was a pleasant breeze. After an overly-long winter that has still left small patches of snow on the ground, it was nice to finally be able to go outside and enjoy the Spring weather!

While talking to one of the third grade teachers, we were thinking of reasons to stay outside longer, and not just as an extended recess. He decided to try to have the students explore fractions by grouping and regrouping while outside. I decided to do something I’ve never done before in my professional career, but I remember doing a few times while in college:

I decided we were going to do our independent reading outside.

I asked several of the students what they thought of the idea, and they were all very enthusiastic. So I had my class line up, then we went in, got our books, and came back out. It took a few minutes for everyone to get settled, but once they did, all of my students were actively reading, sharing, and discussing. I made sure all of the conversations were related to reading, and was glad to see everyone doing just that!

Some of my students decided to read with a partner:





A few got together in a group of three:


One student decided to read on his own:

But most of the students got together in small groups:






We were only outside to read for about fifteen minutes, but I think we are going to try it more often. The students really seemed to enjoy reading while outside, getting fresh air, natural light, and plenty of space! And if there is just one thing I want my class to learn to enjoy this year, it is reading!


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