BIKE LESSON IDEAS: Math, Science, Geography & Photography.
We aren't professional educators and chances are, neither are you. As so many of us wonder how our kids will be educated this fall, we want to help stir up some creativity and enable you to think of schooling beyond the walls of a classroom and away from the screens. Here are a few lesson ideas for teaching kids alongside their bike:
Use math for shorter rides or incorporate it into a longer family bike trip.
- Estimate the time it will take to bike one mile, then time your ride and see how the numbers compare.
- Find the average it takes to go a certain distance. Say, per 1/4 mile.
- Use the numbers from above to estimate then the length of a longer ride.
- Plan a bike trip and calculate how much water and snacks you'll need and the total budget for your bike trip. Will there be any other associated costs?
- Determine the time you should leave for a bike ride in order to be home for dinner.
Use a map to plan a bike trip and combine it with the math lesson above. Choose a cool destination like an ice cream shop, or grandma's house.
- Print out an actual tangible map of an area and highlight a route for your ride.
- Learn how to understand the distance of your ride using the scale.
- Find the road names you'll follow so you can look for the signs later.
- Learn to understand if you're going north, south, east or west. Take the map along for the ride for reference and learn to use it.
Bonus: They'll naturally practice critical thinking skills as well. What's the emergency plan if something goes wrong, like a skinned knee or a flat tire? Will the second mile be slower than the first? Why?
Use a bike to teach basic photography skills.
- Learn simply how to use a camera and get the bike in frame. Try close-ups, and distance images, action shots, and still life.
- Teach different types of photography and capture a certain style. A few types: photojournalism, sports photography, still life photography, editorial photography.
- Create a photojournalistic story of your latest bike adventure, document everyone that went on the trip, the bikes, the destination, and cool trees or plants along the way.
- Practice different angles of sports photography to see which photo makes the bike look biggest, or which photo makes it look like their brother is catching the most air.
Assign a writing task based on their latest bike ride.
- Journal about the bike adventure. Where did they go? What happened along the way? What did you like and dislike about it?
- Write a mock-up advertisement for selling their bike. Describe how the bike looks and functions, explain the color, size and capabilities and explain why someone would want to buy the bike.
Learn about Newton’s first and second laws of motion with a water balloon dropping experiment.
Use sidewalk chalk to draw a target on the ground. Then, drop a water balloon from a moving bike at the exact time you ride over the target. Record where the balloon hits, take notes and continue the experiment until you find the best spot to drop the balloon and what speed you should be going. We can't take credit for this idea. The detailed instructions and a downloadable printout for this experiment are found here.
TODDLERS: An ABC Game
Our go-to hike game is also our go-to bike game. Start with the letter A and move through each letter of the alphabet sounding out the sound that letter makes, "Ah ah ah ah, buh buh buh buh, ce ce ce ce, da da da da..." And so on and so forth. It's so simple, but it's a great distraction from an uncomfortable bike strap or a premature snack request.
Each different type of lesson we introduced above also allows room for extra critical thinking. When customizing your own bike lesson, whether it be geography, math, science, or whatever, consider the critical thinking questions you could ask along the way. For example:
What could go wrong when riding a bike and what should we pack in preparation? Bandaids, a tire patch, a phone, extra snacks?
On our long bike ride, will mile 2 be slower than mile 1? Or will we get faster as we go?
How do the different gears work on your bike?
Educating kids in a new and ever-changing situation can be difficult. We thinkg some of the best things in life are learned outside. If you've got cool ideas for "outdoor education" send them our way! Shoot and email to firstname.lastname@example.org.