8 Steps To An Amazing Outdoor Classroom Day

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Holly Gardner

Holly Gardner is TT Editor, as well as a Freelance Publisher. She has been working with @TeacherToolkit for over 6 years - since she published his first book in her role as Senior Commissioning Editor at Bloomsbury Publishing. Since then, she left her day job,...
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Are you ready for Outdoor Classroom Day?

Have you already registered your class – or whole school – to get outdoors on 18 May for Outdoor Classroom Day? Or do you want to get involved, but aren’t too sure about what to do on the day?

Global Campaigns Director, Cath Prisk, has worked in education and play, practice, policy, development and campaigning for 25 years and shares her ‘8 simple steps to making Outdoor Classroom Day happen’ in your school.

1. Think easy

If amazing playtime isn’t yet part of every day life at your school, how can you create a climate for ‘learning outside’? Well, firstly, don’t be too ambitious! If you’ve never put ‘loose parts’ in your playground, don’t start with play fighting matches, try something more familiar like ‘den building’. Take a look at this Pinterest board for some ideas.

2. Where are you going?

Can you stay in your school grounds? If so, which parts? Do you need to leave your site? Any outdoor space will do, but for the learning part of the day some sort of boundary helps define the area. When thinking about play, can you open up places where children don’t always get to go?

3. What outdoor lessons will you do?

Can you involve children in brainstorming ideas and get them to vote on the ideas they come up with? Make sure they are activities that don’t need lots of equipment, and if you need to go outside of your school grounds, or get agreement from other members of staff, make sure you give yourself time to plan! There are lots of outdoor lesson ideas on the Outdoor Classroom Day website to get your started.

4. What outdoor play can you celebrate?

Many schools around the world are recognising the value of ‘loose parts’. This can be anything: large crates, material, boxes, foam tubes, rope… Could you ask a local business to donate cardboard boxes? Or ask all parents to donate some dressing up outfits? Making Playtime a Key Part of Every Day is packed with great advice to help you make your school’s morning break time special.

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5. Be prepared!

When thinking through your lesson, especially if this is one the first times you’ve brought your class outdoors, think through more than just the lesson plan. How will you get from the class to the field? How will you bring children back together? Getting Going with Outdoor Learning has some great tips to help you with this. And don’t forget that a bit of risk helps children learn and grow. Use this risk:benefit guidance and template.

6. Record your day!

This is a special day to celebrate outdoor learning and play! So, how will you record it? Here are a few ideas:

  • Give children cameras to take photos.
  • Create art using natural elements.
  • Make a song about the day.
  • Write a blog post – check out these top tips to get you started – (and enter the competition!).
  • Film your day outdoors using this video guide.

7. Be part of the global movement

Outdoor Classroom Day is a campaign to make outdoor learning and play part of every day for schools everywhere. Schools in more than 60 countries are already taking part; see what they are doing by visiting our Get Inspired page, then share your own plans using the hastag: #OutdoorClassroomDay.

8. Reflect on how you can make outdoor learning play part of every day!

We know that children who learn outdoors are more engaged and remember lessons for longer. We know that four playtime and breaks with more ‘loose parts’ helps children’s creativity and readiness to learn.

We know that children – and teachers – who spend more time outdoors are happier. So, what would it take to make outdoor learning and play part of every day at your school?

Register your school today!

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Outdoor Classroom Day is led globally by Project Dirt and supported by Unilever’s Dirt is Good brands.