Methods of Teaching Outdoor Activities


Lesson Plan






A Guide to Developing an Outdoor Activity Lesson Plan
Methods of Teaching Outdoor Activities & Practicum (PE 445)


The Assignment

Your assignment is to develop a lesson plan for an activity in your planned practicum experience.  A lesson plan is a tool which helps you prepare and teach a class or run an activity in a logical and efficient manner. 


To prepare the lesson plan you'll need to do some outside research.  You'll find outdoor books and other resource materials in the library, but the best source on campus is the Outdoor Program Resource Library located on the first floor of the Student Union Building.


Lesson plans should be at least two pages and should be typed.  Also include a citation of at least one reference that you used in preparing the lesson plan.  Use the following format: 


Lesson Plan Format

The lesson plan should include the following elements.  Be sure to look over the attached example which shows how all the elements fit together.


Name of Activity.  Write down the name of the activity that you will be teaching.


A. Preliminary Stage


1. Supplies and Equipment Needed.  List all the supplies and equipment that you'll need for the activity.  If you are going to a field location (such as a park for a hiking trip) be sure to include safety equipment such as a first aid kit and cell phone for emergencies).


2. Transportation Arrangements.  If the activity is taking place on school grounds, then skip this.  If, however, you are planning to hold the activity in a different location than school, explain how you plan to get the students there:  by bus, vans, parents' vehicles, etc.  Include leaving and return times and the estimated time in transit.


3. Extra Help.  Many outdoor activities need a low instructor-to-pupil ratio.  Indicate if you plan to have some extra people on hand to help with the activity.  Extra help may consist of community volunteers, people you hire, or parent volunteers.


B. Teaching Stage


1. Introductory Activity.  In many activity teaching situations, it is often helpful to get students started right away on a short, fun activity.  This activity may or may not be related to the outdoor activity that you are teaching.  Ice breakers such as name games or the commonalty game are a good start, particularly with adult groups.  With children, you might want to do a fun active game.  You may also use this time to do warm-up and loosening activities.  Unless a long warm-up period is appropriate, however, don't take too much time with this.  You'll want to move quickly into the main activity.  Note that if you are doing your practicum in a college class, the warm-up activity may or may not be appropriate.  Time is limited and often times it is necessary to get right into class material.  You'll need to use your best judgment.


Describe Introductory Activity on your lesson plan using the following subheadings:  time allocated, movement experience, organization and teaching hints, safety & environmental precautions, expected student objectives and outcomes (see below for definitions of each of these).


2. Lesson Focus or Main Activity.  This is the focus of the class and the main skills that you will be teaching.  As you plan your teaching progression, remember that good skill instruction always starts with simple skills first and slowly builds up.


Describe Main Activity on your lesson plan by using the following subheadings:  time allocated, movement experience, organization and teaching hints, safety & environmental precautions, expected student objectives and outcomes (see below for definitions)


3. Culminating Activity.  After teaching skills, you may want to plan a culminating activity.  A culminating activity uses the skills learned in a practical situation.  For instance after teaching some basic cross-country ski skills, you may want to take the class for a short ski tour. 


It may not be possible to do a culminating activity at every class.  You may not have time.  If that's the case, you'll want to plan time at a later date to give students a chance to use the skills they learned. 


Describe the culminating activity on your lesson plan by using the following subheadings: time allocated, movement experience, organization and teaching hints, safety & environmental precautions, expected student objectives and outcomes (see below for definitions). 


4. Closure.  Upon completion of the culminating activity (if you have one), it is time to bring closure to the class.  For children's groups, it is helpful to tell the class what they've learned, how well they did, and what they'll work on next time.  Even with adult classes, some type of summary might be helpful.  Once again, time is a factor and you'll need to use your best judgment.

For your lesson plan indicate the time allocated for closure (it should be fairly short) and write down examples of what you might tell them.


Definitions and Explanations


Time Allocated.  The amount time you plan to spend doing this activity. Example:  "30-45 minutes."


Movement Experience.  A description of the skill that you will be teaching. Example:  "Wet exit from a kayak:  have students divide up in two's.  One person standing, one in boat.  Person in boat flips upside down.  Holds for a few second.  Then drops out by pushing gently and straightening legs."


Organization and Teaching Hints.  Use this to give yourself some helpful hints.  For an example, you may write "divide students in groups of four," "keep the groups spread out," "make sure they watch your demonstration first before having them try it."  If desired, you can also include diagrams in this section which shows where student groups and instructors are located.


Safety and Environmental Precautions.  Indicate any special safeguards you plan to use.  For instance, for a kayaking class you may write: "all students will have buddies, one will be standing in the water and the other in the boat.  The person standing in the water is responsible for helping if the boater has any trouble."  If you are using outdoor areas, indicate how you plan to minimize impact on the environment.


Expected Student Objectives and Outcomes.  Indicate here what you are trying to get your students to achieve.  For instance in a kayaking class, you might write:  "Students will be able to flip upside down in a kayak and successfully eject."



At the end of the lesson plan, include the citation of at least one reference that you used in preparation of the lesson plan.


Sample Lesson Plan
Methods of Teaching Outdoor Activites (PE 445)


Name of Activity:  Junior High Cross-country Ski Day


A. Preliminary Stage


1. Supplies and Equipment

20 pairs of cross-country skis, poles & boots.  (Students will have fitted their boots in the previous class).  First Aid kit.  Cell phone.  Pack with emergency equipment including a couple of tarps, and odds and ends of extra clothing:  stocking hats, mittens, down jacket and wind breakers.  Include some hard candy to be used in the event someone starts getting cold.


2. Transportation

School bus.  Bus will pick up students at 1:00 pm.  Drop students off at golf course 1:15.  When the activity is completed, students will be picked up at 3:15 and back to school at 3:30 pm.  The bus will stay at the activity site to be available in the event any students get cold.


3. Extra Help

Two City Parks and Recreation personnel, experienced in cross-country skiing, will be there to help.


B. Teaching Stage


1. Introductory Activity

Introduce the two Parks and Recreation instructors and help students get into skis.


Time Allocation:  10-15 minutes (includes getting skis on)


Movement Experience:  Do a couple of in-place warm-ups, including


(1) In-place Side Stepping.  Everyone side steps to the right 4 or 5 steps.  Then they all side step to the left.  Skis need to be picked up and students need to keep aware of the length of the ski. 


(2) In-place Turning.  Everyone turns in a circle by spreading out the tips of their skis and coming back together.  Once they circle one way, have them circle back the other way.  The movement is made by making small V's with the tail of the ski in the apex.


Organization and Teaching Hints:  Divide students into 3 groups.  One instructor goes with each group.  Make sure that the individuals in each of the three groups are spread out far enough that they are not bumping into each other.


Safety and Environmental Precautions:  Make a quick survey of students to assure they are dressed appropriately.  Be prepared to hand out extra stocking hats and warm clothing from the emergency pack if anyone starts getting cold.  Remind students to pick up any litter.


Expected Student Objectives and Outcomes.  (1) Students will begin to get the feel of moving skis on flat ground.  (2) Students will be able to move sideways on skis.  (3) Students will be able to turn on skis (4) Students will get muscles warmed-up before practicing falling exercises.



2. Lesson Focus/Main Activity


Time Allocation: 1 hour


Movement Experience:  Once students have warmed up, do the following . . .


(1) Falling.  Remind them that falling is a part of skiing.  Demonstrate by taking fall.  Explain to keep body loose as you fall.  To get up:  get skis close to body in parallel position, push up with hands.  Have everyone fall and use technique to get up.  Then demonstrate the crossed poles method of getting up in deep snow.


(2) Walking movement.  Use natural walking motion.  Poles can be used as support.  Arm swing should be natural.


(3) Striding movement.  Demonstrate striding on skis.  Compare it to jogging but with a pause between each step to allow for glide.  Have them try it, concentrating on gliding on each step.


(4) Striding & Arm Motion.  Show how gliding and arms motion can get out of balance.  To correct imbalances have them hold poles loose, make strides for several hundred feet, gradually gripping poles toward end.


Organization and Teaching Hints:  Continue to work in three groups.  When teaching the walking motion, make parallel tracks leading away from the group's central location.  The parallel tracks should be about a football field in length and 10 feet apart.  The students will continue to use the tracks going back and forth to practice techniques.


Safety and Environmental Precautions:  Same as above.  This a good time to mention the principle of outdoor clothing layering.  As they get hot they can take off layers. and as they cool down, they can put layers back on. 


Expected Student Objectives and Outcomes: (1) Students will be able to use two different methods to stand up after a fall.  (2) Students will be able to travel on cross-country skis using a walking motion.  (3) Students will be able to travel on skis by using the kick and glide method   (4) Students will begin to learn proper arm coordination.  (5) Students will have an opportunity to practice outdoor clothing layering techniques.



3. Culminating Activity


Time Allocation: 20 minutes


Movement Experience: Now that students have learned some basic traveling skills, take a short tour across the golf course:


(1) When going down hills, show how to keep balance:  keep skis shoulder width apart and evenly balance.


(2) Remind students that when they do trips in other outdoor locations they should always carry matches, fire starter, extra food, extra clothing and water.


Organization and Teaching Hints:  Students will continue to stay in three groups as they do the tour.  The groups should take different routes across the golf course to avoid becoming entangled with one another.


Safety and Environmental Precautions.  (Same as above)


Expected Student Objectives and Outcomes. (1) Students will learn the basics of traveling on cross-country skis.  (2) Students will understand that cross-country skiing in outdoor locations requires carrying basic survival equipment with them.


4. Closure.  Time Allocation:  15 minutes (includes getting skis off).  All the tours will end at the bus loading area.  After students have taken off the skis, and climbed in the bus, the instructor asks:


"What techniques did you learn today?"  The students can respond and the instructor reinforces main points:  "Falling is a natural part of skiing.  If you fall, it's no problem, you can get back up.  Everybody does it."  "Walking on skis is much like walking down the street.  You just have to remember you have long sticks on your feet."  "Taking a cross-country tour can be great exercise and fun in the winter, but be sure you carry matches, fire starter, extra clothing, food and water when you go."



References:  (Don't forget to include one or more references here)

Gillette, N.  (1979). Cross-country skiing.  Seattle: The Mountaineers.




Pub History: This page was originally located at the following URL:





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