Learning 18 May 2017

​SK’s outdoor learning experience.

By Emma Gedge, SK lead teacher, Lakeside campus
Photograph by CIS Communications

Every day the children in SK2 spend time learning, working together and exploring in the Outdoor Discovery Centre. This outdoor learning helps develop healthy, active lifestyles and routines, through hands-on experiences in our natural world. These experiences help the children learn to understand and respect nature, and feel a connection to our world and our community.

It is different outside every day: the weather changes, we observe new bugs and plants, and we discover new materials in the outdoor classroom. During this time, the children learn to be adaptable to change and resourceful in the real world. Being outside provides the children with rich opportunities to develop their problem solving skills and use their imagination too, because in the Outdoor Discovery Centre, they play safely and freely while trying new things and taking risks.

Being outside ignites an excitement and curiosity in young learners that cannot be replicated inside the classroom. The children engage in reading, writing and mathematics explorations in the natural world through observing, collecting and sorting, making predictions and testing theories.

Our outdoor learning time is split into three parts.

  1. First, we meet as a class in our mindfulness circle. The children are led through a series of breathing, listening and relaxation exercises to help them be aware of and engage their senses, and tune into their personal well-being every day.
  2. Then they are given a task to complete in the outdoor classroom for the day: which may include making observational drawings; writing sentences on the writing walls and pathways; or collecting, sorting and counting natural materials. In these daily tasks, skills and knowledge taught in the classroom are applied to real world experience in the Outdoor Discovery Centre.

  3. After meeting again and reflecting on our learning for the day, the children are given time for free play. During this last part of the class, the children exercise their social skills while engaging in cooperative, imaginative play on the hills, in the sandbox, and in the tunnel. This last session is important as it encourages the children to explore and understand the space independently, and through this they learn self-reliance. Every day the children find freedom, exercise independence, excite their senses and, most importantly, learn by doing.

Note: This article was so good from a pedagogical perspective, it was picked up by the Outdoor Classroom Day team as an exemplar of good practice - congratulations Emma.

If you are interested in learning more about the benefits of outdoor learning, you can visit these websites or come in and talk to our primary team: