For the past 2 1/2 years, TTT has been running outdoor learning classes with pupils from Gatton, a local primary school in the community garden. From weekly sessions with Reception and Year 1 classes, to 7-week projects with the Year 6 students, the classes encompass a huge range of cross-curriculum learning, developing new skills and vocabulary and allowing the children to fully interact with nature in the safe and beautiful environment of our garden.
But I still get asked regularly, what exactly is outdoor learning? So, here’s a brief example of my class today, on a beautiful autumn morning with a lively Year 1 group…
After warm greetings and not-at-all-exaggerated reports on how much they had grown over the summer holidays, the children discussed the different seasons, today’s weather and how the sunshine made them feel: happy, bright and a bit sweaty! We then looked at some of the plants we had been growing – a cherry tomato that I picked just before they arrived and a beetroot. They were very excited to discover that beetroot acts as a natural dye and took great delight in getting a red thumb. We also went to look at the green and yellow pumpkin that was growing in the vegetable beds.
Then we played an energetic game of seek and find, bringing back different numbers and colours of grasses, leaves, pinecones, sticks and acorns. The children learned that the squirrels love to eat acorns and hide them away so that they can eat them later in the winter; we found lots of buried acorns in the garden – sorry squirrels!
And then, while half the group help collect objects for the Big Draw, the other half used trowels (remembering the safety instructions I taught them last year) to dig up the old pea plants in their little veg bed. The plants went on the compost heap to be recycled in the garden. We all put our hands into the freshly dug soil to feel how it was drier on the top and damper underneath but was also loose like crumble mix. And the numerous worms that were unearthed during the process were all gently and kindly transported to the bush where rumour has it they were having a big worm party…
Finally, after making big shapes, small shapes and star shapes, the children exploded with an impressive “Acorns!” for their “word jump”. Exit one group of happy, rosy-cheeked, energised children.