About Outdoor Learning
The outdoor environment has massive potential for learning. We are extremely fortunate to have such rich environments on our doorstep such as the Wildmoor Heath Nature Reserve (91 hectares of rare heathland habitat); our large playing field; EYFS all-year garden and our purpose-built outdoor learning classroom 'The Haven' which includes a wildlife pond.
Our children and young people’s learning experiences are enhanced by maximising the potential of the outdoors.
All children participate in a range of progressive and creative outdoor learning experiences which are either part of the national curriculum or promote their emotional well being.
In the summer of 2019 we were very luck to receive a Local Schools Nature Grant. We received £500 worth of outdoor equipment (such as outdoor classroom kits) and all of our teachers received specialist training from 'Learning Through Landscapes' in how to make the most of our outdoor provision.
Recent activities have included:
Forest School Style Wellbeing
Our Year 5 children have been enjoying regular weekly sessions in The Haven with Mrs Holt (a Forest Schools teacher) and their class Learning Support Assistant. The children have enjoyed making dens, pond dipping, making a mud kitchen, putting on puppet shows and making their own plays and songs. The children also enjoy supervised sessions such as stick whittling and toasting marshmallows around a small fire. They have also enjoyed a walk on the heath looking for animal tracks.
Local heath 'habitat' sessions
Year 3 visited our local Wildmoor Heath with Thames Basin Heaths Partnership. The children found out all about some of the amazing species that live there, paying particularly close attention to our amazing ground-nesting birds – the Dartford Warbler, Woodlark and Nightjar – and, equipped with bug pots and sweep nets, an enjoyable time was spent looking for some of the smaller residents that secrete themselves in amongst the vegetation.
Taking the curriculum outside
Mrs Leach's class have been learning about the early-age man and put their knowledge of hunting and gathering to the test in a search for pictures of animals and fruit/plants hidden around the school grounds.
Mr Phelps' class have used natural materials found in the school grounds to make 3D maps of ancient Egyptian cities.
Mrs Dalton's class have enjoyed working in small groups to build shelters, using our new den building kits.
With Year 6, we brought the history of our local area to life by going on a day's learning walk; along the Devil's Highway (an old Roman Road); through the bracken of Crowthorne woods to learn about the highway men who used to have small camps and dens; on to Wickham Bushes (a former Saxon trading post) and finally exploring the remains of Cesar's Camp (a local Iron Age hill fort). We ate our lunch at Cesar's camp and from the highest point were able to look over the Thames valley (where Vikings sailed up the rivers Thames and Kennet to establish a camp in Reading) to Buckinghamshire.
In the autumn, instead of clearing and disposing of the leaves that fall on our car park and playground, we make leaf piles for the children to play with.
A child's tactile system is required for them to coordinate, organise, discriminate and interpret touch appropriately.
Leaf play is an excellent way for children to feel the various textures of smooth, rough, soft and crunchy. As children carry leaves from one area to another, they will test their ability to gauge how hard or soft they need to grip the leaves. As they build the leaf piles they will learn the amount of pressure needed to push or pick up leaves. All of these simple games help them organise their sensory systems and help them develop important fine motor and writing skills down the road. Leaf play can be an excellent source of movement and activity that stimulates the sensory system. Jumping into the huge leaf piles, running into the leaves, and even throwing the leaves in the air, is not only fun and exciting but also an extremely important part of developing your child’s sensory systems.