A teacher reflects on outdoor learning

30th August 2017

“Every child is born a naturalist. His eyes are, by nature, open to the glories of the stars, the beauty of the flowers, and the mystery of life.” – Ritu Ghatourey

At Gems Modern Academy – Dubai,  we believe outdoor learning boosts a child’s development. As teachers, we understand that lessons conducted outdoors provide children with opportunities to learn in ways that would not be possible in a traditional indoor classroom.

This is why last year we encouraged our Kindergarteners to be a part of Outdoor Classroom Day. Our main aim was to get the children to enjoy themselves while they learn. Due to weather constraints in UAE, outdoor learning is a challenge hence we needed to take into account the changing weather and planned the day accordingly.

Our day outdoors

We began the day in circle-time discussing the importance of outdoor learning and how nature plays an important role in every living being’s life. A variety of hands-on, inquiry-based activities were planned for the day, which related to real world situations and experiences.

One of our outdoor lessons was on ‘Habitats’ and the children were challenged to create their own shelters. Many decided they would pitch tents, and used materials such as bed-sheets, tables, newspaper sheets and mats to construct these. Each group constructed a unique tent then discussed how they could improve their construction to make it more stable.

The benefits we experienced first hand

Outdoor Classroom Day allows students to directly experience nature. At Gems Modern Academy we are in the process of creating a sensorial garden. In order to incorporate an element of art into the day, as well as engage the children in a creative exercise, we sent a group out on a nature walk. The children were looking for twigs, leaves and seed pods that could then be used by them to make wind chimes and dream catchers for the garden.

In our Kindergarten we follow the inquiry-based approach to teaching science and children are encouraged to observe, record their findings, compare and contrast. Our little ones created Venn Diagrams, comparing different living and nonliving things they found outdoors. Even their outdoor and indoor classroom experiences were compared and contrasted!

Story time and staying active

Story sessions were held in the garden and the children enjoyed listening to stories, discussing the plot and speaking about their favourite characters. The children also engaged in various role-play activities in our KG corridors.

Keeping physical development in mind, an obstacle race was created out of recycled cartons, steppers, hula-hoops and cones and the children skipped, jumped, rolled and squiggled their way through it! This was one activity that was thoroughly enjoyed and loved by everyone.

Outdoor Classroom Day saw 500+ children outdoors learning in the midst of nature. The children as well as teachers loved the experience and were amazed by the how much the children grasped in just one day. We look forward to getting outdoors more often!

By Sonia Pote, Kindergarten teacher at the GEMS Modern Academy, Dubai. You can follow Sonia and her class on twitter.

Get involved!

If you would like to participate in Outdoor Classroom Day, register your class or whole school, and share your day’s activities on social media using #OutdoorClassroomDay.

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Thank you for supporting Outdoor Classroom Day!

Thanks for joining the movement we can’t wait to see what you get up to on the day! Please share this with your colleagues and friends to help us make it possible for every child to get outdoors to learn and play every day 🙂 Check out the resources tabs for ideas for the day – and to make learning and play part of every day!

Wohoo! Top marks for signing up!!!

Thanks for joining the movement, we can’t wait to see what you get up to on the day! Please share this with your colleagues and friends to help us make it possible for every child to get outdoors to learn and play every day 🙂

Thank you for supporting Outdoor Classroom Day!

We’ll send you a newsletter shortly. Time to play is critical for every child – share your moments with us by tagging #OutdoorClassroomDay and make every day a day to learn and play outdoors!

Wohoo! Top marks for signing up!!!

Thanks for joining the movement, we can’t wait to see what you get up to on the day! Please share this with your colleagues and friends to help us make it possible for every child to get outdoors to learn and play every day 🙂

Thank you for supporting Outdoor Classroom Day!

We’ll send you a newsletter shortly. Time to play is critical for every child – share your moments with us by tagging #OutdoorClassroomDay and make every day a day to learn and play outdoors!

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