Outdoor Learning

Outdoor learning ropes as contours photo

Do you want to give pupils a new perspective on a topic? Do you want to stimulate their curiosity? Are you looking for ways to give life to tired lessons? Then why not ‘go outdoors’? A recent focus of one of our twilight and lunchtime T&L sessions was ‘outdoor learning’, and here are a few ideas for how you could use the outdoors simply and effectively…
Hypothesis hunters! – As an example of discovery (or ‘bottom-up’) learning, you could ask pupils to formulate hypotheses or questions related to your subject from what they see on the school site, then work through the enquiry process back in the class.
Use the space! – With no or very simple props, you could breathe new life into certain topics – why not use ropes to show connections, toilet rolls to show timelines, and vantage points like the Learning Link to look down at pupils acting out molecular processes? Get pupils to measure angles and areas, or to examine building techniques and designs.
Natural stimulation! – Use the environment to develop your pupils’ curiosity and why not use it for mindfulness as part of a form time activity on relaxation techniques?
Please find below a fuller list of the ideas generated by two dozen colleagues as to how the outdoors could be used to boost teaching and learning at BGS – scroll down, look through, try an idea or two, and let us know how it goes!
David, December 2017
Hypothesis hunter:
Sciences (Biology/chemistry/physics)
• Pupils come up with a range of questions that they could investigate on site
• Identify which questions could actually be investigated/look for any problems.
• In small groups come up with a hypothesis and possible method for investigating – prediction/variables/equipment etc.

• Good for introducing lower years to investigations/variables. Possible use for introducing CORMMSS (Bio).
Maths:
• Use of Learning Link/outside space to measure angles and height of buildings.
• Get pupils to work out how to measure the area of different spaces e.g. the playground.
• Investigating/measuring ratios
Languages:
• Pupils write 20 questions about a particular area on site, give these to another student who has to translate the questions and identify the area being described.
• Possible homework – describe the route around school.
• Come up with questions that you would need to ask to achieve something outside e.g. how to access the main entrance via the key fob.
Digital Learning/computer Science:
• Walk the perimeter of the school/playing field and convert this into an algorithm – cross curricular with Geography.
History:
• What used to be in this area?
• Come up with questions that you could ask about a particular area to find out what it wold have looked like in the past.
PD/Form Time:
• Walk around the site, what questions would you need to ask to identify any problems with access for disabled students.
DT:
• Use to investigate/teach depth perception.
• Texture challenge – how many different textures can you find around the grounds in a set time. Take sketches of each texture and then draw them in the class room.
Art:
• Different viewpoints of the same object e.g. how could you draw a tree from different angles viewpoints.
• How could you draw certain areas/objects from the perspective of different artists/styles.
Psychology:
• Depth Perception
• Pupils come up with different observational studies that could possible carry out around the site and what ethical concerns there would be, how could they plan the study etc.

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