Being physical and getting active
The children are given lots of opportunity to develop their gross motor skills in our outdoor learning environment. They can freely access balancing equipment and often build assault courses using large bricks and crates. They are also able to develop their climbing and balancing skills on our Trim Trail. The children develop their fine motor skills during outdoor play, painting with large brushes and rollers, drawing and writing with chalk and using spades and gardening equipment.
Learning to work together:
By providing a variety of accessible resources the children can work together, share ideas and plan how they are going to achieve their goal. Such activities can be adult directed, i.e. creating a boat for the Gingerbread man or child initiated i.e. building a house. Such opportunities enable our children to co-operate with others, build relationships, share ideas and plan and gather resources and get creative.
The children are always highly motivated by visitors to our outdoor learning environment. We have visits from the natural environment, including a pheasant that likes to eat our seeds and a buzzard that sits on the Trim Trail waiting for an opportunity to eat the pheasant. Such visits promote lots of opportunity for discussion and motivate the children to deepen their knowledge using information books, writing about their experiences and making observations. We also have lots of planned visitors to our outdoor environment. Mr Riley brought in his motor home and on a separate occasion he brought his miniature steam train to share with our train enthusiasts. We have also had a visit from a staff pet Kacey the dog. Prior to planned visits the children are encouraged to think of questions to ask so that they could find out more information. A class adult will scribe the children’s questions so that they can see purposeful writing. Such visits help the children to develop their listening skills, give the children real-life experiences and help them to develop their understanding of the world.
Using stories to inspire us:
We frequently use stories to inspire and excite the children and we do this both indoors and outdoors. We will create reading trails related to a chosen story, which encourage the children to read simple sentence clues that contain the sounds and common irregular words that the children have been learning. We will also make large scale creations including space ships and giant’s castles, build rivers for the Gingerbread man to cross and work together to find the best material to build a boat for the Gingerbread man so that he can cross the river safely. We will also go on lots of imaginary adventures which relate to our class story. By using stories outdoors we develop our children’s love of literacy and bring the story to life. Such tasks and activities also benefit children’s social skills, physical skills, imagination and creativity.
We offer lots of opportunity for exploring mathematics and number outdoors. We frequently do mathematical trails, inspiring all to search for number symbols, quantities of objects, practise counting skills and observing shape in the environment. The children get lots of opportunity to measure, for example by building towers that are taller than a metre and accurately measuring and recreating the length of a blue whale on our school playground. There are also resources available so that the children can weigh items and explore capacity in the water tray and in our mud kitchen. The children love to count and sort natural resources and often match their findings to our Numicon tiles. Again we use stories to demonstrate mathematical concepts, for example the children had to recreate the bed from the Princess and the Pea, each time adding one more mattress. We practise counting backwards when we are blasting off to the moon and learn to tell the time by playing ‘What’s the time Mr Wolf?’ whilst matching the time to a real clock.
Throughout the year we spend lots of time on outdoor adventures. We develop knowledge and understanding of our local environment when we go on our ‘Stonebow walk’. We do this walk up to three times a year and it enables us to observe the seasons, farming and life-cycles. We also observe the natural environment and develop our knowledge of the world when on school trips. We have undertaken trips to Manor Farm and Beacon Hill, encouraging discussion, questioning, attentive listening and observations. The children used both outdoor adventures as a stimulus for talking and writing about their experiences. We previously had an outdoor Bear Grylls day at school, building on one particular child’s interest in survival techniques. Before we could go on our imaginary adventure the children had to identify and write a list of all the things that they would need to help them survive. This really inspired the boys to get writing.