Be it an hour each day or all day, every day, time spent learning, creating and discovering outdoors has wide-ranging benefits that have been well researched and reported.
Unsurprisingly, you will see greater benefits if this learning is continuous and progressive, with regular opportunities to work outside incorporated into planning throughout the year.
But don’t worry, we are not asking you to carve time out of an already packed day to undertake extra-curricular activities outside.
We’re talking about using your outdoor space to enhance and enrich your existing teaching, and are here to help you create your very own Outdoor Learning Room.
This is not just about developing your children’s understanding of the world, it is about fostering wonder, improving mental and physical health, increasing engagement and being more inclusive.
Use of the Outdoor Learning Room provides a wealth of opportunities to enrich the delivery of all EYFS areas of learning, both prime and specific, because all learning benefits from real-world context and experiences.
Whether you are new to learning outdoors or already embracing your wild side, Gratnells Learning Rooms have put together a collection of activities to help you get the most out of your own built and natural environment.
Grab lots of different-coloured trays and a few paint swatch cards picked up from your local hardware store and go on a colour hunt.
Scour the grounds to find things that match the colours on your cards and pop them in your tray, they can be natural or manmade but try not to pick anything living.
Try to learn the names of everything you collect, use spotter sheets or guide books to help if you need to.
When all your trays are full, count, group and sort your finds into the most appropriate coloured tray then collate your finds to create your very own ephemeral rainbow artwork.
Everyone loves minibeasts!
Be it log pile, pond, tree or hedge-living creatures, exploring who else is inhabiting your Outdoor Learning Room provides a great platform for progressing all seven areas of learning.
Keep your equipment simple, so your children can easily carry it themselves. Our SmartCases are perfect for use out and about and can accommodate a wide range of kit.
Download our free lesson plans for support with the exploring of a range of local habitats from learning-rooms.com/lesson-plan.
Get busy blowing bubbles!
Take your Edx Education Skeletal Geo Set outdoors, make a range of 3D shapes and use them to investigate what shape makes the best bubble.
Send your bubbles across your outdoor space and use chalk to mark their landing spots. Award a prize for the bubble that floats the longest distance.
For the full activity plan, including bubble solution recipes, see the free Bubble Wands activity on the Gratnells Learning Rooms website.
Scatter and hide a full set of these colourful Edx Education Dinosaur Counters in a well-defined, leafy area of your outdoor space, ideally with good ground cover and plant variety.
Grab six Gratnells trays in colours to match the dinosaurs, each with a 6-section tray insert, and head out with your children on a dinosaur hunt.
Split the children into six teams, each with their own tray. Give them 60 seconds to scour the grounds. Each time they find a dinosaur they should bring it back and deposit it in their team’s tray, using one insert section per colour, before heading off to find another one.
When the time is up, each team counts their hoard. Who has found the most?
All teams then group their finds by colour, using the matching coloured trays. Which colour was found the most often? Why?
Give the teams another 60 seconds to search and add the new dinosaurs to their matching coloured trays. Which dinosaurs were the most difficult to find?
Search again until all dinosaurs are found. If you were a dinosaur hiding from predators, what colour would you choose to be?
Logistics made easy
One of the biggest hurdles to learning outside can be transporting equipment. Using Gratnells SmartCases, which children easily carry themselves, and the Gratnells Rover Trolley, combined with our iconic Gratnells Trays for larger or heavier equipment, makes getting outdoors hassle free.
Dr Katherine Forsey is the Gratnells Learning Rooms & STEM Consultant and Outdoor Learning Specialist. She is also a member of the Institute for Outdoor Learning.
Do you want to provide outstanding learning in the outdoors?
Download TEY’s free iPDF report here.
London Early Years Foundation