Our Alfresco Year – Summer Term


#ouralfrescoyear challenge was started to help raise the profile of outdoor learning in primary schools. The idea is to provide a monthly outdoor theme or activity that encourages educators to step outside with their classes in a small, manageable way to experience the benefits of outdoor learning.

The element of the challenge being monthly means it doesn’t add to workload (it could just be a 10 minute activity if chosen to be!) whilst still encouraging educators to continue to go outdoors regularly throughout the school year.

We designed the challenge this way, because it reflects how we got started in outdoor learning ourselves! Very small, short activities each half term or so. Over time we gradually evolved into spending more and more time outdoors, as we became more confident & creative in teaching through nature! We hope other educators will follow a similar path!

Summer Term

Now we’re heading towards the summer term, everything is currently quite uncertain. At the time of this being written (end of April 2020) we’re in lockdown, key worker children are attending school & each school is deciding what’s appropriate for their children’s home education. 

Luckily, outdoor learning is a versatile teaching tool! Whilst traditional schooling isn’t currently underway #ouralfrescoyear still provides the opportunity for lots of outdoor fun & learning. So whether you’re a parent educating at home, a teacher looking for something to do with key worker children or an educator looking for something to send home to parents; this challenge can still be taken part in!

Read on to get your free poster of monthly challenges and some ideas on how to expand on them. We love to see what you all get up to, so if you’re posting about your outdoor fun on Instagram please use our hashtag #ouralfrescoyear!

May – Bee spotting

Did you know there’s 24 different species of bees in the UK? Most people are aware the importance of these fantastic pollinators, but many of us don’t know much about them! For this month you could simply take some time to observe the little balls of fluff buzzing around the flowers, in a garden or park. Or you could take it a little deeper and learn to identify them with this free guide from Friends of the Earth .

Planting bee friendly plants is a sure way to attract them to your garden, balcony or windowsill. You could also undertake an investigation; which plants attract the most bees? Observe the plants in an outdoor space for a set amount of time each day over a week, to find out which plants are the most popular with bees. There’s so much potential for maths in this, you could even create graphs or pictograms to represent your findings!

If you’re planning a topic around pollination and plants for next year, make sure to check out our bees & pollination workshop!

June – Attracting wildlife

There’s so many ways to bring more diversity to your outdoor space. Best of all you don’t need a large outdoor space to attract wildlife! If you’re hoping to attract some mammals such as hedgehogs, foxes & rabbits. You first need to start further down the food chain. Without the right vegetation & minibeasts these larger members of wildlife aren’t going to visit often!

You could begin with creating a bug hotel. There’s a lot of instructions on how to do this when you type it into google! All we would suggest is making sure that you use mainly natural items such as twigs & bamboo as this will attract more minibeasts than using household items!

Jenny’s bug hotel!

Creating your own bird feeders is guaranteed to attract some birds to your outdoor space. Follow these instructions below to make your own using a simple pine cone. If you don’t have any pine cones you can put those empty loo rolls to good use instead!

  1. Tie some string around the pine cone and create a loop at the top to allow it to hang from your chosen space.
  2. Smoother the outside of the pine cone/loo roll in either peanut butter or lard (be mindful of nut allergies).
  3. Roll the smothered pine cone in bird seed, you can also push more seed in between the gaps of the pine cone!
  4. Hang your bird feeder in your garden. (Having it close to trees and bushes will help birds build their trust in it being a safe space to feed, as they can flit back and forth.)
  5. Make sure to replenish your bird feeder regularly to keep them visiting!

July – natural loose parts play

There’s so many opportunities for natural loose parts. We use them for maths, science, geography, literally everything! But a favourite of ours definitely has to be transient art! You can use your stock of natural loose parts or collect living bits and pieces from your garden!

Take a look at our photos below to get inspired for your own transient art activity!

512Image Credit: @exploring_year1_2
Image credit: @rightbrainedmom
Image credit: @teachingyear2
Image credit: @young_curious_mind
Image credit: @themindfulforest

If this style of learning resonates with you and you would like to learn how to become an effective outdoor educator, keep your eyes peeled for our online training launching Monday 11th May 2020!

Our introductory series is going to cover everything you need to know about taking whole class sizes outside for your everyday curriculum lessons; helping you get set up for successful outdoor learning. Make sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram to see when our introductory offer launches!

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