Outdoor Classroom Day – 10 Reasons to Get Involved

7 May 2017 · 0 comments

in 10 Outdoor Ideas Series, Whole School

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Outdoor Classroom Day is fast approaching – Thursday 18th May. Naturally every day is a good day for learning and play outside but having a special day to celebrate the value of getting outside, is not to be missed. Here’s ten reasons to get involved…

1. It can be a springboard for teachers who are unfamiliar with the concept to experience being outside.

If you are in a school where learning rarely happens outside other than PE and the odd minibeast hunt or school visit, then signing up for Outdoor Classroom Day provides a whole school, shared focus. Many teachers who want their colleagues to be more involved, have said that special days enables the conversations about the benefits and how this can happen more often. There’s lots of official promotional materials to help you make a day of it! Furthermore, Tim Gill has written a straightforward guide to Balancing Risks and Benefits in Outdoor Learning and Play. This will help debunk any myths that such an event requires excessive amounts of paperwork.

2. Parents, carers and families can get involved.

Some educators worry about the reaction of parents to the idea of being outside, particularly in all weathers, all year round. By having a day which raises the profile of the outdoors as a place and context for learning, then it can begin the discussion and celebrate the benefits. In one nursery, the staff decided to have a barbecue as part of their approach. The parents came in their droves for the free food but really enjoyed seeing how much their children were learning through being outside. Furthermore the staff realised that the extra effort they had made was something that really was doable and possible everyday, aside from the barbecue. From this, they went on to develop free flow between the indoor and outdoor spaces.

3. There’s lots of free resources to download

Many different outdoor consultants, enthusiasts and supporters have provided materials to be used. They have been translated into many different languages so these can be sent home to families of different nationalities where English is an Additional Language.  We all like a freebie!

Furthermore there is lots of sharing of great ideas, plans and activities. Check out the #OutdoorClassroomDay hashtag on Twitter, the Facebook page and Instagram.

4. A partnership project made easy

If you have a partner school in another country then it’s an opportunity to do a shared celebration and find out what has happened in each school. It is a focus that does not rely on fancy equipment. It can be as simple as enjoying a lesson outside or sharing favourite playtime activities, captured on video for each others schools to watch. The International School Grounds Alliance have a free download giving examples from around the world.

5. Secondary schools are actively encouraged to participate

Mission Explore has been a key player in the development of Outdoor Classroom Day. Mission Explore has a wonderful open-ended approach that works in all subjects at many different levels. This is their free resource. However to really see the relevance, check out their website too.

6. Play is recognised, valued and celebrated

Outdoor Classroom Day recognises that children spend 20% of their time at school at playtimes and lunchtimes. So this needs to be the best time possible for children. Michael Follett has a lovely practical guide – Making Playtime a Key Part of the School Day. This is a brilliant summary and is further expanded upon in his recently published book, Creating Excellence in Primary School Playtimes. If you don’t know Mike’s work, have a look at his Outdoor Learning and Play website.

7. The children can be actively involved in planning the day’s events

The more children are involved, then the greater the feeling of ownership and empowerment. What ideas do your children have for celebrating Outdoor Classroom Day? The beauty of exchanging and discussing ideas, is that this can generate even more.  Perhaps the children remember some of their favourite lessons which have happened outside which they would like to repeat.

8. Many skills are developed through sharing your events

The children can think about how they will capture what is happening and share it with others. Will a blog post happen? What about press releases and articles for local newspapers? A short video will provide insight for those wondering what your school got up to. Teacher Toolkit, one of the most popular education blogs, world-wide, is running a competition to get people to submit a blog post about their Outdoor Classroom Day celebrations.

9. It’s an opportunity to do something different – outside

A break from routines can be helpful in different ways. If you are used to working outside, then challenge yourself to do something you wouldn’t normally do. Little tweaks can transform our practice. Even moving to a different part of the school grounds, or giving children the opportunity to lead the learning in ways you wouldn’t normally go, can all add up to a memorable day.

10. Just do it.

The planning does not have to be onerous. The resource I was asked to create for Outdoor Classroom Day – Getting Going with Outdoor Learning is an abbreviated version of Chapter 3 in my book, Dirty Teaching. It is a series of practical approaches to getting outside and structuring simple lessons which do not require expensive resources or lots of time to organise.

 

Finally, please do sign up, enjoy the celebration and share your experiences. We’d love to know what you get up to. Over 735,000 children are going to be involved… will you enable your class or group to join in too?

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