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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and I will get back to you. I hope you enjoy embracing the outdoors with your children. Thank you.
Why learn outdoors?
Key Features of our outdoor classroom:-
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.