As the weather continues to improve, it’s only natural to want to get outside. And luckily, there are lots of proven physical and emotional benefits to taking learning outside of the classroom!
Spending time outside not only reduces children’s stress and anxiety, which is especially important after the unusual year we’ve all experienced, it can also boost energy, improve mood and lesson engagement.
Outdoor learning is great for developing social skills and is the perfect opportunity to inspire and encourage creativity, especially in arts and crafts. Of course, you don’t have to limit outside lessons to just Art and P.E., you can use outdoor learning in Maths, English, Science and right across the curriculum.
Here are some of our favourite lesson ideas…
There are many maths topics that can be taken outside of the classroom; number, place value, symmetry, data handling, shape, measurement… the list goes on!
Our favourite outside maths activity is a simple one that can be adjusted depending on the group’s ability: Number Groups.
Head out to the playground and give every student a drywipe board. Assign everyone in the class a number by writing it on their board. Then the fun starts!
Shout out simple instructions and see how quickly the class can complete the task:
-Get in order from highest to lowest
-Multiples of 3 step forward!
-Even numbers stand on this side, odd numbers stand on this side…
You can increase the challenge by asking questions that require a deeper understanding, for example:
-Get into pairs where the sum/product is…
-Prime numbers, step forward!
A great way to increase confidence is to ask one of the students to take on the role of the teacher by asking the question and assessing if all the class has responded correctly, or you can group students together and ask what their numbers have in common/what is different about their numbers.
With this fun activity you’ll familiarise the students with mathematical terms and see increased engagement, teamwork and confidence. From a distance you’ll be able to see the areas that need improvement and can ask further questions to help develop their knowledge further.
Taking English out of the classroom is a great way to increase engagement and show students that this lesson isn’t just about sitting at a desk. Our favourite activity is a classic family game with an educational twist: Charades.
Before the lesson begins, grab some paper and write down a verb on each piece, fold it in half and place it in a jar, or a hat if you have one handy! Then give each student a mini drywipe board and pen, and head outside.
Students can take it in turns to take a piece of paper out of the jar and act it out for their class. Without shouting the answer out, the rest of the class can then write down what they think the verb is and hold their boards in the air. The first with the correct answer can then go next.
Want to increase the challenge? Once the class has guessed the correct verb, why not ask them to write it on their board in a different tense, or use it in sentence?
To flip the challenge, write a verb on a drywipe board and hold it up for the class to act out. This is a great way to release energy and have some fun!
The possibilities for taking science outside of the classroom are endless, but our favourite activity is Spy-ders.
Pair the class up and give them something to measure and mark out an area of grass. They’ll also need a gridded drywipe board and pens. Once outside, ask them to mark out the area of grass and make a scaled version on their whiteboard. They can then spy on the bugs that have made their homes on the playing field!
They can record bugs, flowers, weeds and more, and make observations around the area of their board, too.
To build on this further, you can ask them beforehand what they expect to see and compare it to what they see during the lesson. You can also discuss how the weather or season may impact their results, create charts and graphs of the most common finds, and ask each student to write a summary of their findings afterwards to gage their understanding.
So, there you have three of our favourite outdoor learning activities. Now, grab your sun cream, head outside and start learning!