It is a Jungle Out There!

White Walk Pedestrian Signage

It is a jungle out there

The learning space has been critically considered for over 100 years. Yet, we often hear from teachers who say they can’t teach outdoors due to their “concrete jungle”. Most schools I worked in were dominated by their concrete playground.  Did this stop me heading outdoors?  Of course not!  Did it mean I had to think a little more?  Yes.  Did it mean I had to overcome my previously held thoughts and feelings?  Absolutely. 

There is no doubt that “A natural space leads to richer imaginative play; increased physical activity; calmer, more focused play; and positive social interactions” ( Nedovic, S. and Morrissey), but concrete can help us learn too.

I love to take my literacy lessons outdoors, there is so much you can do! 

Creating sound maps.  This is when the children sit and listen and creatively construct a map showing the sounds they hear and from where they came.  It could be in words or images. Let them decide.

I have also used the outdoors to develop children’s use of adjectives.  A piece of chalk and let them go wild writing adjectives next to or on corresponding objects.  Then heading indoors and completing a piece of descriptive writing. 

Or using it as a stimulus, what mythical creatures might the find in your school grounds, can children describe them and their homes? Can they build a simple home with found objects or identify where in the playground the creature can live?

Or the green man story we share a few weeks ago, can the children continue this?

What about maths?

Give the children a range of containers, different sizes and shapes and explore capacity

Or distance, can they mark how big a great white shark is or how far the long jump record is? What about the length of an F1 car or measure a tree?

What about making Vann diagrams with found objects? The children can set their own categories and see if others can determine them.

There are so many ideas you can take outdoors without needing a field, trees or any greenery

What are your favourite outdoor lessons?

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Nedovic, S. and Morrissey, A.M., 2013. Calm active and focused: Children’s responses to an organic outdoor learning environment. Learning environments research16(2), pp.281-295.

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