A new academic year is approaching – and if you’re setting a ‘New Year’s Resolution’ for yourself and your class this September, perhaps it could be to get outdoors!
The great outdoors offers a dynamic and engaging environment that stimulates creativity, fosters curiosity, and enhances learning. However, transitioning your class to outdoor learning can seem like a daunting task, especially with a new group of pupils. Fear not! In this blog post, we will explore our top five practical strategies to make it easier for you to take your new class outside and embrace the wonders of outdoor learning.
1. Number Register:
Creating a number register is an effective way to organise and track your students during outdoor learning activities. Assigning each child a unique number correlated to their place in the register offers numerous advantages:
Checking Attendance: During the excitement of being outside, it’s easy for a child to get distracted and wander off. Once your outside in your designated space, ask the children to call out their numbers, roll-call style. You can quickly identify any missing students, ensuring their safety and well-being.
Encouraging Responsibility: Knowing their designated number fosters a sense of ownership and responsibility in each child. They become more aware of their presence in the group and are more likely to stay engaged in the learning experience. As the children practice calling out their numbers, they will also become experts in knowing who is before and after them.
2. Set Boundaries:
Setting clear boundaries is crucial to ensure the safety and organisation of outdoor learning activities. Before heading outside, take a moment to explain to your students where they are allowed to go and where they should avoid. For instance:
Playground Rules: If you’re conducting lessons in the school playground, show the children the designated play areas and explain that they should stay within those boundaries. This prevents them from wandering off to unsafe areas or disturbing other classes.
Nature Walk Guidelines: When exploring a nearby park or natural area, discuss with the children the trails or paths they can follow and any restricted areas. Emphasise the importance of staying on the designated path to preserve the environment and wildlife.
Safety First: Remind the children about general safety rules, such as staying away from busy roads, not touching unfamiliar plants or animals, and the buddy system for group outings.
3. Set and Agree Expectations:
Agreeing on expectations with your class helps establish a positive and respectful learning environment. Here’s how you can go about it:
Classroom Discussion: Initiate an open dialogue with your class about the benefits of outdoor learning and what you hope to achieve together. Encourage them to share their thoughts and ideas, making them feel involved and invested in the process.
Collaborative Rules: Together, create a set of outdoor learning rules and guidelines. Keep the rules simple, age-appropriate, and focused on safety, respect for nature, and responsible behaviour.
4. Consider Effective Ways to Transition Inside and Outside:
Smooth transitions are essential to maintain the flow of learning when moving between indoor and outdoor environments. Consider these strategies to make transitions seamless and enjoyable:
Use Transition Songs or Chants: Incorporate fun and catchy songs or chants to signal the beginning or end of outdoor learning sessions. For example, you can have a “Let’s Go Outside” song that the children sing together before heading out.
Visual Cues: Utilise visual cues to prepare the students for transitions. For instance, show a picture of a sun when it’s time to go outside and a moon when it’s time to come back in. This is helpful if your class are spread out!
Engage in Mindful Transitions: Encourage the children to engage in mindful practices during transitions. You could ask them to identify 5 things they can hear on their way outside, for example.
5. Ensure Children and Parents Know There Is a Potential to Get Messy:
Outdoor learning is all about hands-on experiences and exploration, which may lead to a bit of messiness. Prepare both the children and their parents for this exciting aspect of learning outdoors:
Dress Code: Ask parents to dress their children in comfortable and weather-appropriate clothing that can handle a bit of dirt or water.
Clean-Up Routine: Establish a clear clean-up routine after messy activities, involving the children in the process. This helps them take responsibility for their learning environment and practice good hygiene habits.
Remember, the great outdoors offers endless opportunities for exploration, discovery, and learning that will leave a lasting impact on your students’ education and love for nature. So, get outside, embrace the wonders of outdoor learning, and watch your students flourish in this dynamic setting!