Learning Outside the Primary Classroom is about using the outdoors as an extension to the traditional indoor classroom. It offers a useful guide to teaching outdoors, drawing on the author's own experience of implementing an outdoor curriculum, and aims to encourage primary practitioners to go outside with their curriculum.
Learning Outside the Primary Classroom underpins the benefits identified in the outdoor learning manifesto and will help you to:-
Improve academic achievement.
Provide a bridge to higher learning.
Develop skills of independence in a widening range of environments.
Make learning more engaging and relevant to young people.
Provide opportunities for informal learning through play.
Reduce behaviour problems and improve attendance.
Stimulate, inspire and improve motivation.
Develop the ability to deal with uncertainty.
Provide challenge and the opportunity to take acceptable levels of risk.
Improve young people’s attitudes to learning.
Summary of contents
Learning Outside the Primary Classroom is an immensely practical book with a sound theoretical underpinning. As well as describing the author’s journey and the resulting improvements in both learning and behaviour of the children, it provides theoretical support to justify this approach for all ages from Early Years Foundation through to Key Stage 2.
The author uses research to identify seven emergent themes that support outdoor learning, including:
Adventure and challenge
The book covers all essential areas including:
Planning the environment
Planning the curriculum
Finding and funding resources
Overcoming the top ten barriers to taking learning outside.
The publication includes a CD-ROM with printable resources and a PowerPoint presentation for staff training and raising parental awareness.
The problems facing children today are extremely serious and the role of practitioners is to facilitate the needs of the whole child. This chapter looks at six key factors prompting practitioners to take learning outside the classroom. These include:-
Modern indoor child.
Increased behavioural problems.
Reduced numbers of children mastering the three Rs.
Increased childhood mental health issues.
Increased childhood obesity.
Vast changes in society over 50 years.
Chapter 2: The Outdoor Classroom and the Brain
Practitioners need to understand why the outdoor curriculum has such a resounding impact on children. This chapter considers the science behind the educational practice or the golden ticket for practitioners to access the outdoors.
Chapter 3: Problems with taking the Curriculum Outside
Practitioners are reluctant to take learning outside the classroom. This chapter looks at why an outdoor curriculum would pose problems for you and your school and provides solutions to overcome these problems which include:-
No Designated Space for an Outdoor Classroom
Little or No Equipment for Outdoor Use
No Storage Facilities Outside
Supervision of Outdoors Limited due to Staff to Pupil Ratio
Literacy and Numeracy Requirements
Headteacher/Senior Leadership Restrictions
Fixed and Permanent Structures Posing Problems
Chapter 4: The Positive Effects of Outdoor Learning on Children
This chapter looks at the seven positive reasons for practitioners to use their outdoor classrooms more often.
Social aspects – others included in memories.
Natural contexts – the environment in which the memory was formed.
Active investigations – playful learning.
Adventure/risk and challenge – exciting and risky games.
Space/freedom – sense of autonomy.
Creativity – self-directed outcomes.
Sensory experiences – multi-sensory appeal.
Chapter 5: Getting to know the Potential of your Outdoor Environment
This chapter looks at some practical methods to help you plan your outdoor environment. For successful outdoor learning experiences it is important for schools to ‘get to know’ their outdoor classroom. Drawing out a map of your outdoor classroom will give you an idea of the areas and opportunities that are open to you.
Chapter 6: Planning for the Outdoor Classroom
Children draw on their own learning resources when they are outside so it is an ideal area for problem-solving, role-play, art, science and physical activity. This chapter looks at the benefits of long-term rolling planning for outdoor classrooms across year groups and the curriculum and provides suggested rolling programmes across school in the following themes:-
Physical, Health and Wellbeing
Scientific and Technology
Whole school approach
Chapter 7: Outdoor Curriculum through Early Years Foundation Stage
This chapter looks at the practical tips to planning the outdoor provision in Foundation stage. An outdoor curriculum must be planned for but can still be flexible for children to have aspects of self-empowered learning. The outdoor classroom lends itself to experiential and sensory learning that the indoor classroom restricts. Through stimulating outdoor learning challenges a child can develop at a rapid rate and that is why access to outdoors daily is essential to the EYFS child.
Chapter 8: The Key Stage 1 Curriculum Outdoors
Planning for an indoor classroom is compulsory in primary teaching, planning for an outdoor classroom is therefore an extension to that. This chapter looks at simple and cost-effective ways you can extend your indoor classroom to outdoors.
Chapter 9: When Outdoor Learning becomes Active Learning
This chapter explains and looks at ways to put movement into the curriculum to stimulate and excite children into learning challenges that will eventually be rewarded by a rise in standards of achievement.
Chapter 10: More Shoestring Resources and Ideas
The author looks at low cost outdoor classroom resources including soap flakes, shaving foam, cardboard, tarpaulin and washing line, mystery play dough and suggested use of these.
Constantly needing to replace resources within the outdoor area can be a problem. Fundraising is one way of keeping a flow of funds into the school or setting and this author also looks at top ten fund raising ideas including:-
Jelly and ice cream parlour
Coffee, cakes and a show
Chapter 11: Staff PowerPoint Presentation