Enjoying the great outdoors
I have always enjoyed spending time outside. As I child I had a great interest in nature; maybe it stemmed from spending time on my grandad’s farm, but whatever the reason I loved being outdoors.
Typically I was the child catching the frogs in my hands or turning over logs to find mini beasts. Spending time outside helped me to channel my inquisitive nature and allowed me to explore the world around me.
Summer fun or focused learning?
After a long assembly on a hot Friday afternoon my KS2 class were fractious, irritable and clearly not in the right mindset to listen, let alone learn. Primarily with the intention to let them have a run and let off steam I suggested we went outside. However, going outside was such an unusual class time activity that the children wanted to know why they were going outside. Responding, I suggested we were going out to count the buttercups on the school field and gave them a fictitious learning intention. This throw away remark lead to the most incredible learning I could have expected! The children began to think about the question and how they could find an answer. Was it possible? How could we find out how many buttercups there were?
There was a ‘buzz’ of learning!
Before I knew it a group of children had begun sectioning off an area of the field and counting the buttercups! This led them to measuring, estimating and calculating approximately how many buttercups would be on the field. As a result their discussions were based around mathematical knowledge and problem solving skills. Sceptically I would have said it was a stalling technique so they didn’t have to go back to class, but they were learning without knowing it.
Finally I had my lightbulb moment! Outdoor learning was a powerful tool yet it is generally under-utilised. What if it was utilised in a way that frequently supported learning? Could it have a big impact? My main focus was now on exploring the benefits of outdoor learning and how I could use it to raise standards in my own teaching.