Hello & welcome! Hopefully you are already joining with the #ouralfrescoyear challenge. But if you’re not don’t worry, as it’s never too late to get involved in outdoor learning!
We understand how much teachers have to juggle on a day to day basis because we are teachers. So we’ve designed this challenge to be manageable, to tick off a few curriculum objectives & improve well-being for both you and your class! The aim is to simply introduce you to the joys of learning outside!!
To get started download our poster, which has monthly outdoor activities designed for KS1 & Early Years. Print it out & put it on your classroom wall, that way it will help keep you inspired to take your class outdoors. You can do these activities for as long or as little as you like! Taking part in the challenge will get your class outdoors once a month, which in turn may help you establish a routine of learning outdoors more regularly! Read on below for some ideas of how to expand on these simple activities and don’t forget there’s a blank version of the poster available too, so you can adapt it to suit your needs!
Although it may be tempting to stay indoors with the dropping temperatures; there will be plenty of natural changes in your outdoor space for the children to observe. Grab some magnifying glasses and look at what has happened to the ground, grass, trees and the wildlife (or the traces of) as the season changes. Take photographs so that you can look back and compare the differences once Spring arrives!
And if it’s snowing? Take the children outdoors and engage in a STEM challenge of making the tallest snowman. Then predict which ones will melt first, you could record their heights over a number of days and see if you can explain why some may be melting faster than others!
One of the more adventurous challenges…venturing out into the rain! Often the rain keeps us all huddled indoors enduring noisy wet playtimes. But with the right clothing (think coats, wellies & umbrellas) children can comfortably explore the rain. Engage the children in their senses by noticing the sound of rain falling on different surfaces. Listen closely to the sound it makes hitting the playground, the leaves of a bush, the windows & any other surfaces you can find. How about bringing some classroom items outdoors such as paper, pencil pots & whiteboards?
You could also take the time to observe the changes rain brings. Measure the size of the puddles on the playground, chalk their edges to record the size of them as they dry up or measure how deep a stick will now sink into the boggy grass. Rain brings about lots of mathematical opportunities!
This month is all about challenging your children’s perception (and maybe your own) of rain being a bad thing! Take the time to find the joy in the rain! As long as you plan ahead and provide a way to all get dry & warm afterwards we promise that you will love it!
After a couple of ground rules about the use of sticks: being mindful of waving them around & keeping the pointy ends away from people’s bodies. These free & natural resources should be embraced in lessons. In Maths you could create a stick maze and record directions for successfully finding your way to the middle, think turning clockwise/anti-clockwise, whole turns & half turns; the positional direction in this activity is rich!
Or use them in phonics, if you have children who struggle to grip pencils correctly, give them an opportunity to show-off their sounding out by spelling words with sticks. Simply layout the sticks to create the sounds!
Once the last of the frost has disappeared, now is the time to plant something edible. There is lots of information online about which plants can be sown at this time of year, but vegetables such as lettuce, radishes, peas and potatoes can all be planted outside now. Simply wait for a week when the weather conditions are right. Growing your own food is a very rewarding experience for children, it also develops a sense of responsibility and teaches them to look after nature! You could even try planting something the children have never heard of or linked to a story you’re reading. It’s bound to give some memorable reactions when they taste it for the first time!
We hope that’s got you inspired to get outdoors over the Spring Term! Whether you take time to learn outdoors every week or just once a month, it can have a huge impact on everyone’s well-being. Outdoor learning has also been proven to boost attainment and improve attention & focus upon returning back to the classroom. So there really is every reason for teachers to head outside! If you want to read more about the benefits read our original Our Alfresco Year post here.
If you do decide to take part in the monthly challenge make sure you tag us on Instagram and use #ouralfrescoyear to share your fantastic learning. If you love these ideas you will also love our outdoor workshops, click the link below to find out more about them!