Getting Started

Taking children outside to learn isn't as daunting is it may sound. We all manage, as teachers, to have successful PE lessons, with children using a range of equipment, and  very rarely get injured, nor does chaos ensue. With the same amount of planning, the same is true when you take children outside for maths, or geography, or any other subject.


What is Learning Outside (LOtC)?

At AJS, we have created a definition of learning outside which recognises the links between outside and class-based learning.  We say that:


 LOtC includes any learning which is inspired by or takes place in a location alternative to the classroom. This includes using the school grounds or resources from it, day visits, residential visits, and visitors into school.


Basic kit

Being prepared is the first step, and there is some basic kit that it is useful to have. A box which includes: pencils; chalks; clipboards (or know where they are); and an ipad or camera is all you need to get you started.


I also have laminated maps of the school grounds which I made by tracing over a google maps picture and then colouring and photocopying. The map is in the middle of an A3 page so it can be written on with white board pens, and then wiped off to be used again.


Other resources depend on the learning that is taking place, and will be suggested on the ideas pages. It is worth laminating things that you know you will use more than once, and keeping master copies of recording sheets.


Setting the Ground Rules

It is useful to set the ground rules before you go outside. To start with, this may be everytime you leave the classroom, but as the children get more used to learning outside, they will take on more responsibility for establishing protocol. I would work out with the children: where they are allowed to go; how many children are working together; how to share the work; what the minimum outcomes are (success criteria); what the purpose of the work is (how it relates to other work in class); how long they have got...


Each activity may need specific rules - eg. how to carry sticks, care when hunting for mini-beasts...


Resolving Issues

There will be problems that need resolving, as there are in classroom and playtime situations - it's part of the children growing up and developing. Before going outside I make it very clear that the school rules still apply, and that this is learning/ class time, not playtime. Ensuring children work in productive groups means that most potential issues don't arise (when I can I have groups of say, 2 or 3, to allow flexibility and so that no-one is excluded). I sometimes have specific children working with or near me for some or part of the lesson, and I use my TA carefully. Most issues can be prevented before they arise (as wih PE), but having a 'time out zone' might be necessary... you know your class and most rewards and sanctions that you use inside can be used just as well outside!



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