This morning I had a welcome surprise. After walking the dog around frosty Inverurie, I came home to a parcel which contained the book Learning Outside the Primary Classroom by Paul Barron. So far, it’s the best introductory outdoor learning book for primary teachers to-date.
The title, blurb and book reviews on Amazon didn’t give much away other than it was going to contain games, ideas and activities. This can make me suspicious. As a newly qualified teacher I quickly discovered that books in series that were chirpily labelled “Bright Ideas” tended to contain one or two good ideas and a whole heap of rubbish ones.
Perhaps surprisingly, it has been a long time since a basic book has been published for primary school teachers giving ideas for outdoor learning. There’s lots aimed at the pre-school sector to the point where I’m now having to be selective about which books appear in my Early Years and Outdoor Learning Listmania.
Many of the activities will not be new to teachers or outdoor professionals who work a lot with children outside. However I really liked the presentation of the material and found it quickly accessible via the index and curriculum areas. It’s worth buying just for an up-dated slant on traditional activities such as nature photography.
Several activities such as leaf rubbings are expanded up in an open-ended and flexible way. The suggestions are helpful in terms of taking a problem solving approach within an activity that aids higher order thinking skills. I particularly liked the “Pass the Stick” activity which helps children realise that sticks are a lot more than thwacking tools and fake light sabers.
Given the range of possibilities that exist for taking learning outside, I don’t think one book can ever do this matter justice. However this book is a welcome starting point for developing the habit of taking children outside on a frequent, regular basis. Hip, hip, hooray!