I’m delighted to be sharing some ideas today about learning outside to help promote Outdoor Classroom Day. With two young kids myself I know how much more fun they have when they learn outside and when kids are having fun they’re far more interested in what they are actually learning!Children today have less time than ever to play outdoors and research by the Dirt is Good campaign found that 1 in 10 children said they never play outside on an average day. Outdoor Classroom Day takes place on May 18th and you can sign up here to join in, just take at least one lesson outside and show how important playtime is for children. Of course if you need some ideas for learning outside then hopefully this will help you!
I must admit I got a little carried away with this challenge and instead of just trying out one idea we used our leaves in 7 different maths challenges. My children are 3 and 6 so there’s understandably quite a gap in their numeracy skills but we were able to create activities which suited both of them and could be changed so they could both learn and enjoy while we played outside. Oh and did I mention it was fun? Yep, this was a lot more fun than sitting inside with some worksheets and even after we finished the stuff I’d planned both kids wanted to continue and do more, not something we normally achieve where maths is involved! 79% of the schools that took part in Outdoor Classroom Day 2016 said they were going to increase time outdoors to learn and play and this has totally been our experience too – learning outside made it so much more fun!
You will need:
Leaves – we’d cut down a load of Ivy at the weekend so I used some leaves from this
Chalk pens – these are much better than normal pens as the colours will stay nice and bright on your leaves
How to prepare your activities:
Before we started I got a pile of the Ivy leaves and wrote out the numbers one to ten. To help my daughter who is only three I also did the same number of dots on the back of each one so that when she wasn’t sure of a number we could count the corresponding dots on the back to help. For my son who is six I also did some extra leaves with a plus, minus and equals sign on them.
Maths activities with leaves:
Once we had our leaves at the ready we all trooped outside to the garden to give our maths activities with leaves a go! I prepared what I would ask them in advance and these were our activities:
Letting each child choose a leaf at random and asking them to pick the corresponding number of daisies from our garden (I may need to mow the lawn!)
Giving each child a few leaves and asking them to put them in order from smallest to biggest – for my daughter I did one and two while my son had more numbers to work with.
Giving each child some leaves and asking them to order it from biggest to smallest.
For my son we did some simple sums, both with me laying out the questions eg; 3+4= and giving him a sums where he had to fill in the missing bit of the question so what -4=2
For my daughter we looked at the individual leaves and I asked her to tell me what number was on them, if she didn’t know then together we would count the dots on the back together.
Giving each child a little pile of daisies to count and then asking them to find the corresponding number on a leaf
About Outdoor Classroom Day
My kids loved doing these activities outside and Outdoor Classroom Day is all about giving kids the chance to take their learning outside where they can make the most of the world around us. Outdoor Classroom Day takes place on May 18th and is a global awareness day to celebrate and inspire outdoor learning and play, a critical enabler of healthy, happy lives for children. Last year just under half a million children participating in Outdoor Classroom Day across, 3,354 schools in 51 countries – will you take part this year? Teachers can register their school here while parents and other supporters can also sign up here too to get posters and letters to help encourage your school to get involved. There are loads of resources on the site too so if you’re new to outdoor learning (or just fancy a bit of a hand with a lesson plan) there’s loads of ideas for fun ways to learn outside.