Make Outdoor Learning Part Of Your Curriculum
I have very clear memories of my years in primary school. I attended a tiny country school with very little space. Its playground was small but backed onto fields and woodland.
As a result, outdoor learning formed a significant part in my primary education. Having an outside classroom made the boring lessons fun, and the fun lessons were awesome!
Outdoor learning brings a very real sense of excitement and joy for learning to your students. It has aptly been named a learning laboratory and there was never a greater need than recent years to mitigate against learning loss than during the pandemic.
Benefits of Outdoor Classrooms For Learning
As 9-year-olds, we were unaware of the benefits we were reaping by going outdoors. However, these are now well-documented and include:
– Improved physical health
– Improved wellbeing and emotional health
– Opportunities to learn key ‘soft skills’ like teamwork, empathy, etc
– Improved academic performance.
Outdoor classrooms are full of learning features not to say the considerable health benefits the pupil’s gain. Subjects are brought to life because you never know what will fly past you as you learn!
With less virus and bacteria transmission, easier social distancing being a given, there are further possibilities like fitting a weather vane or rain gauge to engage the kids attention.
Make Outdoor Learning Part of the Curriculum
Many people think that outdoor learning is getting muddy in a vegetable patch or visiting a park. But if you’re outside and you’re learning, then doesn’t that count? Take normal lessons outside.
Many parts of the National Curriculum can be adapted to include learning outdoors. And children will remember what they learned better than if they wrote it in an exercise book.
Every school has unique facilities and needs. Read on for outdoor classroom ideas to make the most of what you have and help your children grow in the best way possible.
Outdoor Classroom Ideas
Are you after some teaching resources or outdoor classroom ideas to work with your pupils? We have included some links to these here that could be helpful and also a video that gives some hints and tips about learning outdoors.
Perhaps you are more after outdoor classroom ideas for the actual sail shade, canopies, gazebos, or lean-to shelters for a dedicated outdoor learning space that is useable in all weathers? Kensington Systems have a huge range of high-quality commercial-standard architectural shelters and canopy options in laminated wood or aluminium that will last for years and years.
We survey, design, project-manage, install, and commission outside classrooms for schools and dining areas that can match your building with high quality powder coating, down pipes within the columns or superb eco-friendly laminated timber canopies.
Low Effort Outdoor Learning Steps
You can open the classroom door (if it opens to the playground) and let children sit out under the canopy to work.
Use leaves, rocks and other natural objects in lessons – think creatively! Nature is versatile.
Roleplay – Act out storybooks and historical events outside.
Draw/Map storybooks, countries, trade routes and planetary systems in the playground.
Covering part of the playground with a canopy or shelter makes outdoor learning easy all year round.
Moderate Effort Steps For Outdoor Learning
Take children on a field trip to a local park or nature reserve (or even around the school grounds).
Study the local ecosystem, look at different animals, insects and plant species and their habitats.
Or write about what you see, hear, feel, and think in the park/field/woodland, etc.
Critical observation encourages mindfulness and a keener awareness of the surroundings.
Turn the trip into an art project – whether that’s taking photos, drawing and painting or making a collage.
Higher Effort Learning Ideas For Outdoor Classrooms
However, wellies and/or old clothes may be required, and planters or a vegetable patch to do the growing. You could plant bulbs like tulips and daffodils that will flower every year.
Set up a Forest School if you have a wooded area in the school grounds. Place some logs in a circle to set the stage. Training courses are available for teachers to learn the Forest School techniques.
Websites like Sustainable Learning are another great source of ideas for outdoor learning.
Einstein said that ‘Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.’
By teaching children in outside classrooms you’ll ensure they remember the lessons they learn. Years later, they’ll recall their school days and planting daffodil bulbs, when they’ve forgotten the lesson on fractions.