It’s always great to hear from schools who have embraced our whole-school outdoor learning training. However, it is always exciting to hear from Lucy Jenkinson, from Grendon CE Primary, as you know you are about to be amazed how they have taken outdoor learning to the next level. This is Part 1 of their story of outdoor learning through the pandemic.
When schools were first closed due to COVID last March, co-ordinating roles and responsibilities of staff members, targets and assessments etc were no longer a priority. Remote teaching, children’s well-being, parental support alongside panic and uncertainty took precedence and rightly so. Looking back, we now know that the outdoors and a blast of good weather became a significant factor in surviving and for some, thriving, during lock-down 1; our children were fully prepped to take their learning outside.
Since our initial Teach Outdoors whole-school training we have:
- developed our own progressive-skills document to assess children’s progress in outdoor learning (OL), confidence, environmental awareness and life-skills
- teachers include opportunities for OL within weekly plans across a range of subjects, whole-school OL days and off-site visits.
- gathered a wide range of resources, shared ideas and continue to discover which OL lessons are successful and those that are less-so!
- raised funds for an outdoor-classroom with heating, electricity and storage cupboard
During lock down we chose to set a fortnightly ‘Outdoor Learning’ task for each class alongside other remote-learning subjects. The tasks were open-ended and often linked to the current curriculum themes. It gave children the opportunity to continue to develop their outdoor learning skills, but we also found that parents fully engaged with these tasks as they were often relatable and easily resourced (whilst being fun too!). For many, the outdoors became the link and a unifying factor between families.
Examples: Celebrating World Bee Day and World Environment Day with related tasks, shadow-art, bird-houses, planting seeds in the colours of flags, minotaur mazes, catapults, cane teepees and whole-school outdoor learning tasks such as hunts for signs of Spring.
Pupil Voice Year 5/6
Encouraging children to lead an active lifestyle has huge benefits not only on physical health but also on mental health, and we now recognise that more than ever. The children in year 5/6 demonstrate how they have been participating in physical activities and active learning.
Did you spend time outdoors during lock-down? What sorts of activities did you do?
Running, walking, biking, horse riding, playing in the snow, meeting a friend, puppy training, playing football, playing in the garden, borrowing a dog!
Did you enjoy any outdoor tasks set for home/remote-learning?
Building teepees, making and testing parachutes, making a water clock, using chalk for maths, Rev. Morna’s signs of spring walk, PE – running, Joe Wicks