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Our Classroom Under The Sky

At our school outdoor learning lies at the heart of the curriculum. It develops children’s knowledge and understanding and increases the child’s vocabulary by giving meaning to words. It provides the opportunity for collaborative learning in many curriculum areas. It promotes risk taking and further develops a respect for the world around them. Our outdoor curriculum instils a lifelong love of nature and promotes other core values.

At Whitefield Infant School, we use the outdoors as our 'Classroom Under the Sky', which is roofed only by the clouds! It acts as an outdoor classroom where children can explore, investigate and discover the natural environment, alongside developing their language and gaining first-hand learning experiences. It provides a valuable teaching tool for teaching and learning in all curriculum areas.  Our 'Classroom Under the Sky' uses the Forest School Principles, interwoven with our own visions and values and beliefs about how our children learn.

 

 

September 2020 updates to our forest school

 

You have probably seen Mr Howarth around school or up in our Forest School when you have been arriving at or being picked up from school in the past couple of weeks. Mr Howarth has been busy making forest school ready for all the lovely children to enjoy learning outdoors this autumn.

 

Newly built improvements for Autumn 2020 include:

 

A new 'Magical Mirror' in our fairy garden,

New rope swings and lines for den building,

A brand new 'Big Bug Hut' which the children will help make into a unique bug hotel,

New hay bale seating with welly boot rests,

A new seasons peg board display to share autumn vocabulary and peg up autumnal finds,

A new vertical gardening rack where we can grow plants ALL YEAR LONG,

A new outdoor mark making chalkboard,

New recycled forest school storage boxes to keep separate bubble-specific toys and tools, 

Brand new bird feeding stations using re-purposed teacups and teapots,

and much more!

 

In building all these improvements Mr Howarth has used all recycled / upcycled / repurposed materials wherever possible including: wooden pallets, tractor tyres, wood off cuts, plastic fruit boxes and other items. 

 

We cannot wait to welcome our new Nursery and Reception children to our forest school sessions.

New Additions for September 2020

A note to parents:

 

If you are looking for ideas of different activities to try outdoors the following websites may be of help. I use these sites regularly in my own parenting and in my professional planning for our forest school outdoor activities:

 

https://theimaginationtree.com/ (beautiful ideas for creative play-based learning both indoors and out)

https://themuddypuddleteacher.co.uk/ (free short-term accounts are available while schools are closed)

https://www.wildlifewatch.org.uk/outdoor-activity-sheets (lots of free, download and print out outdoor activities)

https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/blog/2020/03/kids-nature-activities-self-isolation/ (some super ideas published especially for this period of social distancing)

https://www.rspb.org.uk/fun-and-learning/for-teachers/lesson-plans-and-supporting-resources/ (resources and activities which help us to care for wild birds)

https://happinessishereblog.com/  (an ‘unschooling’ blog with lots of outdoor education ideas)

https://thegreenparent.co.uk/ (a parenting magazine with many outdoor learning approaches, ideas and articles)

https://outdoorclassroomday.org.uk/resources/ (a website with ideas for all school ages detailing different lessons and learning opportunities which are designed to be delivered outside).

 

Most of the above sites also have facebook pages which regularly share individual ideas for fun and engaging outdoor learning activities. If you have any questions at all or want to give feedback please feel free to email me direct at a.howarth@whitefield-inf.lancs.sch.uk and I will get back to you. I hope you enjoy embracing the outdoors with your children. Thank you.

 

Mr Howarth

March 2020 - More snow and frost melting into mud! Painting snow, snow sledging and keeping warm with campfires, popcorn and hot chocolate - oh my!

February 2020 - Winter Finally Arrives @ Whitefield (kind of)! We went sledding down the hill, smashed ice and splashed water getting very muddy and used our new forest school made ladders to feed the birds in this lean time of the year.

January 2020 - Happy New Year! In a very mild January we have been 'hitting the gym' in forest school as well as making, playing with and sculpting birdfeed playdough, recycling used Christmas wreaths into becoming part of our our natural 'forest school floor' and even doing a little pre-spring cleaning getting rid of fallen Autumn leaves before winter properly sets in.

December 2019: More of a 'wet' than a 'white' Christmas! Painting pinecones, making conker garlands and leaf tinsel, hanging, hiding and finding baubles, using paint and water to make reindeer footprints and rainbow roads and finally having a little sneaky peek at a likely icy January to come.

November 2019 - Halloween and firework fun: finding Mr Bones, making spider webs, collecting leaves, drilling, cutting, racing and composting pumpkins and enjoying our newly opened 'Tough Terrain' outdoor gym!

October 2019 - Discovering conkers, drilling holes for autumn bug hotels, making stick men, harvesting corn, autumn colour hunts and much more!

September 2019: Our new school year! Exploring our forest school setting, harvesting our tomatoes and playing in the water with hook-a-duck and load-a-toad.

July 2019: Building and sliding down waterslides, climbing trees, making and playing with stickmen, investigating light and shade and preparing and sewing our wildflower mini-meadow for the new school year.

June 2019: Summer's here! Exploring plant growth (and plant decay through composting), discovering minibeasts and habitats, moss painting, playing with boats in the water and further improving our setting with child-built outdoor bookshelves and bird feeding tables.

May 2019: A Royal baby, planting watermelons for summer and pumpkins for autumn, installing a new canopy for shade, playing in the sun with water, looking after our spring planting and ... THE PEG GAME!!!

April 2019: Stickplay, forest school games, planting and building our own frames and greenhouses using forest school materials

March 2019: Muddy March! Polishing pennies (and painting some red for red nose day!), making a wishing penny tree trunk, muddy play and embracing the rain!

February 2019: The 'Big Freeze' followed by the 'Big Thaw', building bird feeders and feeding the birds!

January 2019 - Winter Wonderland: feeding the birds, playing in the snow, making ice decorations with natural materials and building winter vocabulary

December 2018: Christmas is coming! Popping popcorn, decorating our trees and keeping warm!

November 2018: rolling pumpkins, drilling pumpkins, hammering pumpkins, sawing pumpkins, carving pumpkins, pumpkin soup, pumpkin racing, pumpkin birdfeeders ALL THINGS PUMPKIN ! ! !

October 2018 - 'Bonkers for Conkers II' learning and working together to roll conkers down our dry waterfall

September 2018 - Going 'Bonkers for Conkers' finding and shelling these wonderful types of nut! We even made patterns using conker nuts and their shells.

Our KS1 Outdoor Clasroom

Independent tasks. As well as our planned activities, children are free to explore and interact with our wonderful setting. Children are free to make use of our climbing ropes, waterfall, planting areas, mud kitchen as well as free-choice activities such as pattern making, going on a colour hunt, stacking the stones, building with sticks, mud and stones, playing with fairies, investigating outdoor creaures and plants and having lots of fun into the bargain.

Why learn outdoors?

Key Features of our outdoor classroom:-

  • Allows every child to have a voice, especially those who find it difficult to communicate in the more conventional learning environment.
  • The use of a natural outdoor environment.
  • Child-led approach to children’s learning which is fun and unhurried.
  • A high adult to child ratio allows children to undertake new experiences and challenges whilst taking appropriate risks.
  • Long term programme that allows repetition where children come into contact with nature using all their senses.
  • Supports personalised learning.
  • Builds children’s confidence and self esteem as they are responsible for making their own decisions and are carefully supported to achieve.
  • Trained adults are facilitators and observers, rather than leaders and directors.

 

At Whitefield we take these features and weave them into our outside learning, linking them into the curriculum making it become more alive, exciting and real.

Our Outside Learning is.....
  • Fun!
  • Regular and ongoing
  • A way of raising confidence and self-esteem
  • Safe, outdoor play and education
  • A way to learn how to manage risks
  • The chance to develop emotionally and physically
  • An opportunity to learn about the curriculum in a natural environment
  • Encourages the children to connect to nature and the great outdoors.
What children do in our Classrooms under the Sky .....
  • Build dens and shelters
  • Games and physical activity
  • Explore the environment
  • Music and lots of noise
  • Trails and Treasure hunts
  • Creativity and Art
  • Using tools safely to make natural items
  • Fires, cooking and healthy eating
  • Science and technology

 

 

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