I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in training lots of teachers and schools in taking the curriculum outdoors. One of the most common barriers I hear from colleagues is that they don’t know what to teach outdoors or how to teach it. If you Google outdoor learning there are lots of resources that you will find such as Juliet Robertson from Creative Star Learning (here’s a link). However, most of the resources out there are aimed at KS1 and there are very few comprehensive resources for KS2. Thats’s why when I heard about this new series of books being launched I had to get my hands on them to see what they were like. The review is based on 3 books from the series, Key Stage 1, Year 3 and Year 6.
The National Curriculum Outdoors is a series of 5 books. There is one book each for Key Stage 1, Year 3, Year 4, Year 5 and Year 6. The books are printed in black and white so they can be easily photocopied. It is the only scheme of work I am aware of that offers a whole school progressive approach for all the following subjects:
- Art and Design
- Design Technology
- Languages (French)
- Religious Education
This is really helpful to those who are trying to implement and successfully embed outdoor learning across their own school.
Each book starts with the same introduction, such as the benefits of outdoor learning. However, the authors also include information about using tools and techniques to support learning outdoors and push beyond the basic knowledge required from he National Curriculum. For anyone who has been trained as a Forest School Practitioner the guidance will be familiar. Those who have no prior training it is suggested and advised that the reader attends a training course.
Each subject has a brief introduction and identifies unit links to natural connections, health and well-being in addition to a word bank. Every subject is then broken into 6 lessons. So for each year group there are 6 lesson for maths, 6 for English and so on. For each subject in each year group there is a summary overview. This identifies what you will cover in the 6 lessons.
The authors have produced an overview of the year so you can use it for whole school planning. Below is the download.
As you would expect each of the 6 subject sessions has its own lesson plan. The lesson plans contain all the information you need:
- Consider – points such as health and safety
- Lesson objectives
- Adult roles
- Warm up ideas
- Main activities
- Evaluation/Follow on
These lesson plans are easy to follow and use themes you would normally find in the classroom, such as The Great Fire of London. The 6 sessions for music are exactly the same throughout Key Stage 1 and then a different set of lessons are repeated throughout Key Stage 2, but in my opinion that’s a minor detail. If you are looking for curriculum ideas/links to integrate outdoor learning across your school and want to ensure progression of skills across key stages then these books are a great initial planning aid.
The online training Taking The Curriculum Outdoors: A Whole School Approach (see link) will work hand in hand with these resources and give any school at great foundation to successfully embed outdoor learning.
If you would like any more information about how to successfully embed outdoor learning across your school then take a look at our website www.teachoutdoors.co.uk or email us firstname.lastname@example.org.