Outdoor learning teacher training sows seeds in schools across the country

January 22, 2013
Author: Hannah

Teachers always tell us that they leave our teacher training days fired up with all sorts of outdoor learning ideas to take home and try with their own classes across the country. So we decided it was time to catch up with them and find out just what exciting things they’ve been up to since their day with the Eden Education team…

Colourful creations

The colour palette exercise – which invites kids to find as many different coloured natural items outside as they can and pop them on a sticky piece of card – is a real favourite with teachers and practitioners.

Fabiana Mello, who came on a training session at London’s Southbank Centre to get ideas for her an early years club in Southwark, created her own interpretation of the activity. Children in her group, along with their mums parents and carers, collected coloured leaves to decorate a huge cardboard tree that’s now hanging on the community centre wall.

Colour palette exercises

Rachel De Thample added an extra twist in her weekly outdoor learning sessions for young children, which takes place in a London park.

Having brought back lots of interesting ‘treasures’ from around the park’s ‘edible garden’, the children worked with their parents to come up with a poetic line relating to one of the colours they’d found. These were then strung together to make a group poem.

The Autumn Rainbow in Westow Park

Yellow is mellow like a banana
Yummy banana yellow
Rushy yellow yellow leaf left out in the winter
Orange sand fire
Looks like fire think of paint
Colour of sunshine
Red like berries and James the Red Engine and this label and tomatoes
Red as a Robin’s chest
Nature’s blood: green
Green as a freshly sprouted leaf
Green glossy slimy frog
Grey like squirrel squiggling

Outdoor maths

Reception teacher Kate Hawker, from London’s Oasis Academy Johanna, tells us that she now teaches ones maths lesson entirely outside each week, since taking part in our Creative Outdoor Learning session. She’s also added our ‘washing line of numbers’ to the space.

This is a simple activity that’s great for maths; all you do is invite children to draw something they’ve seen in the garden on a luggage tag, hang it on a washing line, then keep a tally of how many they can see.

Washing line maths exercise

Speaking of maths, nursery teacher Jill Forster, who came along to get ideas for Lambeth’s’ Crown Lane Primary School, did some ‘sums’ for us and told us that ‘Powerful numbers spring to mind: just two trainers from the Eden Project sow seeds of ideas far and wide, so that in just one class, in just one school, 52 children reap the rewards. I’m not a maths teacher, but this sounds like good economic sense to me!’

Unusual play spaces

Cornwall’s Trythall Community Primary School, which has sent all its teachers and teaching assistants on an Eden training day to bring back inspiration for their recently transformed outdoor space, was awarded ‘outstanding’ for learning outside the classroom by Ofsted.

Created with the help of pupils and the community, their school grounds include a pond which headteacher Matt Strevens describes as ‘designed to get the children in, not keep them out’ and has proved a perfect space for school performances.

Outdoor learning at Trythall School

Wild play

Some schools have really taken on board Eden’s ‘wild play’ philosophy.

Outdoor learning teacher Helen Blackburn tells us that she took reception children at St Breock School to a local beach for a ‘water challenge’ – an activity that gets kids learners working together to improvise a type of assault course for water to travel around.

Martin Besford got his ‘Little Explorers outdoor pre-school’ doing the same at the Highway Farm Activity Centre.

And Sara Oliver, from Cornwall’s Marazion School, says that her Foundation Stage children now go to ‘Beach School’ every week, where they held a teddy bears’ picnic and made ‘sandy snowman’.

Wild play and water play

If you’d like to get inspiration and practical ideas for your own class or learning group, why not come along to one of our training days?

As well as offering training days around the country, we can come to your school to help develop your school grounds, guide you through introducing outdoor learning, or creating a school garden. Visit our website for more information.

With thanks to Cassie Liversidge for her lovely photos.

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2 responses to Outdoor learning teacher training sows seeds in schools across the country

  1. briony davies says:

    I am thrilled about the progress that has been made with regard to expanding the learning outdoors for schools.
    In the light of the economic climate and gloomy outlook for staff at Eden would it be possible to ask for sponsorship to enable your fantastic staff to spread out across the country. Perhaps have county based events for teachers. I would love to help but don’t know how to.

  2. Hannah says:

    Thank you for your words of encouragement and your ideas Briony – we’ll pass these on to the team.

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