Learning Rooms Outdoors
Supporting schools to take learning outdoors
Dr Katherine Forsey, Learning Rooms & STEM Consultant and Gratnells STEM Ambassador.
The risk of viral transmission is lower outdoors, because of this many school’s plans for full opening in September included increased use of the outdoors for learning. The Gratnells STEM Ambassador Team, who have supported schools and parents throughout lockdown via a collaboration with BBC Bitesize, are continuing their support with the launch of a new collection of curriculum-based activities. The collection ‘Learning Rooms Outdoors’, draws on the skills and experience of our team members to bring you seasonal activities that can be carried out in your school grounds or local green spaces. If pupils or teachers are having to isolate at home, they can also be done in their own gardens.
The first set of outdoor activities has been designed for Autumn, takes advantage of seasonal, free, natural resources and deploys them across a range of curriculum subjects and age groups. You can download the whole collection here and we will be sharing the activities each week on our social media channels using #LROutdoors. Each activity is supported by a full write-up on the Learning Rooms website and some also include downloadable templates and instructional videos.
As an outdoor learning specialist, I’ve worked with school groups for the last 13 years and witnessed first-hand the wide-ranging benefits of teaching and learning outdoors. Outside, children have more space, they can move around while maintaining greater distances as opposed to being stuck at an allocated desk in the classroom. Evidence shows that children learn better outdoors, it is good for their wellbeing and teaching outdoors has a positive impact on teachers too (1). We need benefits like this, now more than ever. In my experience, almost the entire primary curriculum can be taught outdoors and many secondary subject areas too. The outdoors provides greater context, resonance and meaning for learners at all stages not just the early years, it is a fantastic free resource that could be placed at the heart of our planning. Coronavirus will be with us for a while, and just like it has driven us to use online platforms and distance learning much more widely, we could cease this opportunity to develop and grow our curriculum-based outdoor education provision. If you’re new to outdoor learning, start with just one hour a day straight after a break time, so your students are already in their outdoor clothing, and build up from there. Reach out to us via @Gratnells using #LROutdoors if there are specific areas you need help with or to share photographs of your outdoor learning adventures, we look forward to supporting you and sharing in your success.
Looking for more outdoor learning ideas? Learning Rooms has a dedicated outdoor learning section providing free outdoor lesson plans, activities, habitat creation guides and top tips across a range of subject areas. See https://learning-rooms.com/teaching-resources/outdoor-learning/
1 Natural Connections Demonstration Project – Final Report http://publications.naturalengland.org.uk/publication/6636651036540928