Outdoor Classroom Day is a global campaign to celebrate and get children outdoors to play and learn at school and as part of their everyday lives. The initiative is led by Semble and supported by Unilever as a part of their Dirt is Good movement. Their main purpose is to ensure that play is a part of the lives of children all over the world. This movement started in England in 2012 and has now grown to over a hundred countries and more than 3.5 million children. This year thousands of schools came together on the 7th of November to celebrate the power of outdoor learning.
Why Outdoor Play?
Outdoor classroom day aims for all children to benefit from learning experiences in their outdoor environments such as the garden, green spaces and play areas. The initiative also wants to make people aware that spending time outdoors is as essential for children as learning to read and write. It is also important for children’s health, well-being and happiness.
Outdoor learning allows the children to explore without restrain from the confinement of indoors and follow their interests while extending their own learning and knowledge. While the children enjoy playing outdoors, it encourages them to be creative in their thinking and play as their imaginations are stimulated by objects around them. It strengthens their social skills by providing opportunities to collaborate, share, take turns, lead and follow. It also helps them connect with, respect and protect nature.
Our school participated in this event again this year on 8th November. During our
Collaborated Learning time on Monday the 4th, the children were made aware of what ‘Outdoor Classroom Day’ was about and were given agency to choose activities that are meaningful and relevant to them, driven by their interests. Stations for construction, painting, water play and playdough were set up to support their agency and to extend their learning, tepees were put up, a variety of loose parts for them to harness their creativity, thinking and problem-solving skills.
On the appointed day, the students busied themselves in the different stations enthusiastically because of the unstructured time, the freedom to choose what interested them and with the peers they chose. Meanwhile, the teachers made observations, listened to their conversations, delighted by so much learning that was taking place, the skills that were being honed, collaboration that was happening
and the normally shy children taking risks and become confident in their abilities. Children used loose parts to build structures and models of objects, using play dough they created lots of interesting things and painted pictures. Some found a quiet place in the tepee to read a book or just chat with their friends. The younger children learnt a lot from the older EY children through watching how the older children play, communicate and do things while the older children gained more confidence as they helped the younger ones and interacted with them.
This was a great way of promoting inquiry and giving the children ownership of their learning.
How can you promote Outdoor play at home?
Be a model: Encourage your child to play outdoors, invent fun games that can be played outside and invite your child to join you. You could go fishing, hiking or camping.
Walk often instead of driving: Give your child opportunities to observe nature and talk or ask questions about things that they see or hear.
Plan for trips to parks, beaches or gardens so that your child will have opportunities to explore, experience and find out more about things that might interest them.
Give them opportunities to play without structure and interruption.
The EY Team.