At Wildmoor Heath, learning need not take place solely within the classroom.
The outdoor environment has a massive potential for learning. We are extremely fortunate to have such rich environments on our doorstep as the Wildmoor Heath Nature Reserve (91 hectares of rare heathland habitat); our large playing field with Sensory Garden; EYFS all-year garden and our purpose-built Forest-School style outdoor learning area 'The Haven' which includes a wildlife pond.
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 wellbeing.
Recent activities have included:
Forest School Sessions
All year groups enjoy regular weekly sessions for one term each year, in The Haven.
Following the Forest School ethos, all learning is child-led in a natural environment with opportunities for them to discover supported risk-taking (such as lighting a campfire, building a shelter or using wood tools). Our learners gain an appreciation of the local flora and fauna.
Reception Class recently enjoyed learning about newts and slow worms.
Local heath 'habitat' sessions
Year 3 enjoyed a guided walk whilst visiting our local Wildmoor Heath. The children found out all about some of the amazing species that live there, paying particular attention to our amazing ground-nesting birds – the Dartford Warbler, Woodlark and Nightjar – and were excited to find out about the carnivorous plants near the bog. The children also learnt about the history of the local area; from how Bracknell got its name in Saxon times (Bracken) to tales of highway men camping nearby!
Taking the curriculum outside
Year 5 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.
Year 4 have used natural materials found in the school grounds to make 3D maps of ancient Egyptian cities.
Year 1 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)
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.