What's Outside

Children will observe nature and draw pictures of what they see.

Lesson Objective

Children will observe nature outside the classroom window, identify things in nature, and draw what they see directly on the window.


What You'll Need

  • Classroom windows facing outside
  • Erasable markers (various colors) – 3 to 4 per child
  • Paper towels

What To Do

  1. Have children stand in front of the windows and observe things that are outside for several minutes.
  2. Ask children to describe the different things that they see (see Guiding Student Inquiry).
  3. Tell the children that they will be drawing what they see outside directly on the windows.
  4. Ask the children to name some things they see that will need to be included in their drawing.
  5. Distribute markers, and tell children that they may trace what they see directly on the window (see Lesson Tips).
  6. Encourage children to use as much detail and color as possible.
  7. Provide paper towels to erase “mistakes.”
  8. When they are finished, have the children observe their drawings.
  9. Ask if they see something new that they did not notice before.
  10. Have the children name the things in the drawing that come from nature and those that do not come from nature.

Guiding Student Inquiry

  • Describe what you see outside.
  • Tell me what you see on the ground.
  • Describe what you see in the sky.
  • Describe the colors you see.
  • Explain things in the drawing that are found in nature.
  • Tell me some things in the drawing that are not found in nature.

Explore, Extend & Integrate

  • Take a picture of the drawing. Do the activity after a change of season. Compare the previous drawing to the new drawing. Have the children notice changes in nature and the colors that they used.
  • After taking a picture of the drawing, have the children make predictions about what would happen to the drawing if it got wet. Using spray bottles of water and paper towels, have the children help with removing the marker from the windows. Discuss their predictions compared with the outcomes.

Check for Children’s Understanding

  • Could children describe things they saw outside the window?
  • Could children describe things on the ground?
  • Could children describe things in the sky?
  • Could children describe the colors they saw?
  • Could children explain the parts of the drawing that come from nature?


Did You Know?

The natural world includes both living and nonliving things. The plants, animals, ground, rocks, air, water, and sky that are found outside are all parts of nature. Spending time exploring nature gives children opportunities to think and develop theories about nature. They begin to notice that living things depend on other living and nonliving things to live and grow.

Observation is a critical part of inquiry. Children are naturally curious and fascinated by living things. As children observe what is outside, they notice things about nature that they may not have noticed before. Taking the time to look and make observations about nature will help children develop an understanding and appreciation for nature.

Vocabulary: Child-Friendly Definitions

  • observe – to look at closely.
  • describe – to tell about.
  • trace – to draw a copy of something.
  • drawing – making a picture of something.
  • detail – a small item.
  • natural – part of the living and nonliving physical world.

Lesson Tips

  • Clear sheets of acrylic can be taped to windows instead of drawing directly on the windows.
  • Children can be partnered or grouped and assigned to specific window sections.


  • Outside Your Window: A First Book of Nature by Nicola Davies
  • Nature Trails: In the Woods (Maurice Pledger Nature Trails) by Maurice Pledger
  • Are You Ready to Play Outside? (An Elephant and Piggie Book) by Mo Willems
  • A Camping Spree With Mr. McGee by Chris Van Dusen
  • A Closer Look by Mary McCarthy
  • What’s Up, What’s Down? by Lola M. Schaefer
  • A Fawn in the Grass by Joanne Ryder

Home School Resources

Home educators: use these printable lesson PDFs to teach this lesson to your home schoolers. They're available in English and Spanish.

Home/School Connections

Las Conexiones a la Casa

While we believe that the books and resources recommended may be of value to you, keep in mind that these are suggestions only and you must do your own due diligence to determine whether the materials are appropriate and suitable for your use. PNC has no sponsorship or endorsement agreement with the authors or publishers of the materials listed.

Content Provided By

Common Core State Standards Initiative – These lessons are aligned with the Common Core State Standards ("CCSS"). The CCSS provide a consistent, clear understanding of the concepts and skills children are expected to learn and guide teachers to provide their students with opportunities to gain these important skills and foundational knowledge [1]. Visit the CCSS