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Outdoor Learning

Outdoor play allows young children to explore who they are and what they can do. It supports them as they learn think critically, take risks, and form a true sense of belonging with their peers and with the wider community.

(Outdoor Play for Healthy Little Minds – Sarah Watkins, 2021)

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Forest School Lead:

Miss O’Brien

Outdoor Learning: Intent

At St Michael’s we aim to provide an environment that positively supports mental health and well-being. We do this by offering a range of positive outdoor learning experinces.   We are fortunate enough to have access to large outdoor grounds and we have areas of the grounds which have been developed into allotments for the growing of fruit and vegetables.   We offer a positive apporach to outdoor learning, where children have access to regular learning time outdoors, within the natural enviroment. Outdoor learning has been proven to have a positive impact within all age groups, promoting independence, confidence and self-esteem. The approach to outdoor learning at St Michael’s aims to support our wider curriculum by taking many aspects of learning into the outdoor environment.

At St Michael’s we are comitted to rasing the profile of outdoor learning for all our learners. Children from Early Years to Y6 are encouraged to learn and play outdoors as often as possible. To raise the profile of outdoor learning, we have decided to give each year group designated time in our outdoor grounds, where staff can take teaching outdoors; this will be developed across the year and become part of our weekly routine. It is our aim that, from Early Years to Y6, children are accessing learning outdoors on a weekly basis and ultimately, the children at St Michael’s, are given the opportunity to develolp vital life skills and a love of the outdoors.

We are comitted to raising the profile of outdoor learning for all our learners. Children from Early Years to Y6 are encouraged to learn and play outdoors as often as possible. To raise the profile of outdoor learning, we have decided to give each year group designated time in our outdoor grounds, where staff can take teaching outdoors; this will be developed across the year and become part of our weekly routine. It is our aim that, from Early Years to Y6, children are accessing learning outdoors on a weekly basis and ultimately, the children at St Michael’s, are given the opportunity to develolp vital life skills and a love of the outdoors.

The primary aims of this curriculum will be:

● To build confidence in children.
● To build resilent and independent learners.
● To develop positive relationships and friendships.
● To promote personal, social and emotional devleopment.
● To develop creativity within learners.
● To allow children to take appropriate risks.
● To develop life skills and experiences.
● To support whole school approach of raising vocabularly development.
● To enable children to respect the natural environment and wildlife.
● To promote well-being and positively support mental health.

Outdoor Learning Progression of Skills

Early Years

  • Introduction to rules/boundaries/format of sessions.
  • Promotion of independent learning opportunities/skills.
  • Introduction of basic real tools – hammers, mallets, trowels and forks.
  • Introduction of basic shelter building with support.
  • Safety procedures.
  • Promotion of free exploration.

 

Year 1

  • Re-enforcement of rules and boundaries.
  • Continuation of the use of basic tools, larger ropes and independent cutting of string.
  • Introduction to basic knots.
  • Supported construction of tripod structures on a small and large scale.

 

Year 2

  • Re-enforcement of rules and boundaries.
  • Continuation of the use of basic tools, larger ropes and independent cutting of string.
  • More sophisticated use of knots for attaching to structures, trees etc.
  • Independent use of tripod structures.
  • Introduction of lashing and frapping techniques to make frames.

 

Year 3

  • Re-enforcement of rules and boundaries.
  • Continuation of the use of basic tools, larger ropes and independent cutting of string.
  • More sophisticated use of knots for attaching to structures, trees etc.
  • Lashing and frapping frames and dual structures – attaching hessian using knots.
  • Introduction of bow saw and peeler – 1:1 support.

 

Year 4

  • Re-enforcement of rules and boundaries.
  • Continuation of the use of basic tools, larger ropes and independent cutting of string.
  • Continued more sophisticated use of knots for attaching to structures, trees etc.
  • Further extend lashing and frapping techniques on a smaller scale at an independent level.
  • Introduction of hack saw/loppers/secateurs/whittling using knives 1:1 support.

 

Year 5

  • Secure rules and boundaries and encourage a Forest school buddy system.
  • Use tools and larger ropes independently.
  • Introduction of fire safety and cooking over a camp fire.
  • Introduce knowledge about the wildlife within our school grounds and how to look after them.

 

 

Year 6

  • Further knowledge about fire safety and fire lighting to an independent level.
  • To introduce peer mentoring into EYFS for den building / willow weaving.
  • To cook over a campfire and help one another.
  • Look more in-depth at wildlife on school grounds and look after them.
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Curriculum links to 'outdoor learning' to build and extend knowledge:

English – Children will use descriptive vocabulary to describe woodland objects and plants, though sensory games. All of these sessions used speaking and listening, key literacy skills such as exciting vocabulary which then permeates all areas of learning. They will talk and share ideas about how we can help to look after the planet.

Science –  Children will observe the growth and decay of plants/flowers. We will plant bulbs and watch them grow. Children will have to look after the plants and our outdoor space. Children can look at different habitats and identify some in the school grounds. They could explore how animals are grouped into vertebrates and invertebrates and how vertebrates are further grouped into: birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles and fish. We will be consolidating this learning by finding examples of each and learning more about the animals and insects that live in our immediate environment. We will be looking at different materials and we will consider these and their properties when turning the gardens into sensory gardens.

Geography- The children will discuss different weather patterns linked to the seasons. Children will collect, analyse and communicate with a range of data gathered through experiences of fieldwork that deepen their understanding of geographical process. They will use simple fieldwork and observational skills to study the geography of their school and its grounds and the key human and physical features of its surrounding environment

Maths –  Children will problem solve and take ownership of their own learning. Children will measure lengths of sticks and consolidate 3D shapes when making the bird house. Children can order objects by length, size or width. Counting using 1:1 correspondence. Children can use natural materials such as twigs and stones to count out, add and subtract.

Art and DT – The ‘outdoor learning’ curriculum gives all children the opportunities to use a wide range of tools safely, whilst still taking risks. The children will collect leaves, twigs and sticks and create pictures on canvas and make self-portraits using the items. Children will make ‘forest friends’ using clay, forest materials and eyes. We will paint using the leaves and twigs and make marks in the mud. The bird tables and nest-in-boots will provide an opportunity to apply these skills, as will sculptures for the gardens.

PSHE – We will nurture a deeper bond with nature and consider how much joy it brings us, and how we in turn should respect and look after our planet. The children will be responsible for looking after the plants and flowers as well as making bug houses and look after insects. This will allow the children to take turns and work together as a team, which will ensure the children create positive bonds engaging in activities together. We will build dens and make communication friendly spaces. In developing the sensory gardens, we will consider all children and all needs and how we can create spaces that provide experience for multiple senses. In addition, the infrastructure and design will be improved so that every child can have positive learning experiences. We will seek feedback and make improvements.

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