Readers of this will inevitably be at different stages of developing outdoor learning opportunities for children. Forest Schools have grown massively in number over the past few years as more and more children enjoy the benefits of learning outdoors.
But don’t be put off by thinking your school grounds aren’t sufficiently developed for children to be learning in them. Planning for outdoor learning doesn’t have to involve a lot of time and effort and children can still gain a great deal of benefit from being outside – where ever you might be.
Here are a few ideas you can do straight away – and they can be done in short bursts – not always needing a whole lesson slot to do them in:
1 Find an interesting object outdoors.
Write 5 questions about it
Draw a mind map to explain its key features e.g. Physical features, Construction, Age, Value, Where it might have originally come from.
3 different uses for it
Eventually – make a Top Trumps game from them all.
2. Photograph or draw your favourite place
Write 5 adjectives
5 adverbs to describe that place.
Turn the drawing or photograph into a postcard and send it someone telling them ‘Wish you were here’
3. Draw a map of an outside area
Annotate it with ‘risk assessments’ - colour code it to show areas that might pose a risk
Design warning signs for the most risky area
Assess the area for disabled access
4. Give different pairs or groups of children a ‘design brief’.
Tell each group that there they have to investigate the best place to put a new feature:
E.g. pond area, swimming pool, wildlife area, vegetable garden, outdoor play area, storytelling chair, covered gazebo, weather station, art garden etc.
They have to decide why and where they would put the feature and list the pros and cons of having it.
A final discussion and vote on the one they would most like can follow.
5. Maths Trails
Give children a list of maths concepts: e.g. 2D shapes, 3D shapes , addition, subtraction,
Ask them to think up maths problems that involve their outdoor spaces.
How many 2 D shapes can you find in the playground patterns?
What do you get if you add together all the steps behind the kitchen with the strides it takes to get from our classroom to the next?
If you laid a 10 x 10 grid on the grass in front of the hall – approx. how many blades of grass in one of the squares? How many in the whole grid?
Estimate how many tiptoes it will take to cross the covered path?
And so on…….
For specific literacy ideas - why not have a look at our digital resource 100 Ideas for Outdoor Literacy - click the photo below to go to the website page