Having lived in rural Cumbria all of my life, being in the outdoors has been the norm. Many of the lessons that I can remember from my own time in primary school were the ones that took place outside; observational drawings and science investigations to name just a couple. I personally felt the benefits of being in the outdoors, but also from my reading of this particular area in education it is clear to see that there are great benefits for children’s learning and development that can be gained from the outdoors.
During my time helping at Morland Primary School I was given the opportunity to take the nursery children for a lesson. With the weather set to be fine, I decided to take the children outside to explore the school grounds and see what they could find.
Before leaving the classroom I made it very clear to the children that even though we were staying within the school grounds it was important not to run off and I needed to be able to see them at all times. This made for effective teaching and it also made it easier to communicate with the children. Setting out these behavioural expectations allowed the smooth running of the session.
The children were excited to be going outdoors and we started by visiting a pond in the school’s Wildlife Area. A couple of weeks previous to the session, the children had visited the pond and had seen tadpoles and this was therefor a time for them to see if the tadpoles had grown into frogs – unfortunately there were none to be seen! However this was a good opportunity to discuss with the children what the tadpoles would look like now and where they may have disappeared to. Following on from this children were left to roam in the Wildlife Area freely. I encouraged them to work together and collect natural items which they thought were interesting and would make a good picture. Allowing the children to roam freely increased both their independence and confidence to discover and explore. (I was always within eyesight of all the children.) Once the children had had time to explore, we moved down onto the school field, I asked the children to find twigs and branches from the field and use them to create the first letter of their names. For some this took them no time and therefore I asked them to try and spell their whole name. We collected our final natural items and headed back to the classroom.
Once back in the classroom, the children stuck what they had found on to paper, with some creating unique pictures out of the natural resources. The children seemed to thoroughly enjoy this activity and really embraced the outdoors.