This year I’m signing up Georgia’s class to take part in Outdoor Classroom Day, which is on May 18th, along with teachers from all over the world who are getting children outside for the day to learn.
I’ve yet to meet a kid who doesn’t love being outside which is why, as a mum of two young children and a childminder, I spend a lot of time outdoors with the little ones. I’m hugely passionate about the benefits of outdoor play, especially in the Early Years, so last year joined the Forest Childcare Association.
What is Outdoor Classroom Day?
Outdoor Classroom Day initially started out as Empty Classroom Day in 2011 by a handful of schools in London as a way to celebrate the benefits of outdoor learning.
Since then it has taken off and become Outdoor Classroom Day which last year saw nearly half a million children take part worldwide. In 2016 the global initiative was backed by Unilever’s ‘Dirt is Good’ team in partnership with the social enterprise Project Dirt.
Outdoor Classroom Day is a chance for children all over the world to take their play and learning outside of the classroom for the day and to celebrate the huge benefits this brings.
Benefits of Outdoor Play
Recent studies show that children are spending an increased amount of time inside and have less time than ever to play outdoors.
“Research by the Dirt is Good campaign, found that parents around the globe are feeling this shift, with 9 in 10 globally recognising that children today, play outside far less than they did as a child. Furthermore, 1 in 10 children said they never play outside on an average day.”
When working with toddlers and preschoolers and even babies just being outside means they are constantly learning and engaging with the natural world around them.
If you’ve every really watched a child at play outside you’ll see how much more they engage in their play and learning compared to being indoors.
Here are just some of the many benefits to being outside:
- Helps to improve gross motor skills through running, climbing and balancing etc
- Teaches children to appreciate their natural environment and understand the world around them
- Encourages children to learn to manage their own risks
- Builds their imaginations
- Improves their emotional well-being and relieves stress
- Improve children’s concentration, perseverance, cooperation and motivation skills
- Gives children access to Vitamin D and fresh air
- Helps children develop social and language skills through building relationships, turn taking, cooperation etc.
- Outdoor learning covers the 7 area of learning and development as set out in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and is just a valuable as indoor learning.
Outdoor play is essential for the healthy development and enjoyment of childhood. It’s as simple as that.
How to take part in Outdoor Classroom Day
Taking part in Outdoor Classroom Day couldn’t be easier, visit the website and sign up. Whether you’re a teacher, organisation or work with children you can get involved and
Outdoor Classroom Day Ideas
The Outdoor Classroom Day website has a huge amount of free resources to get you started. Check out the Outdoor Library and Lesson Ideas to get you started or get inspired by having a look at what other children and schools around the world are doing.
Just being outside with children is a learning experience in itself and sometimes just leaving the classroom or house behind and stepping outdoors is enough to get those little minds wondering, examining, asking questions and absorbing the world around them.
We’re outdoors all the time so I’ve shared 10 of my favourite things to do outside with the little ones:
- Go on a nature hunt
- Lie on the ground and close your eyes. What can you hear? What can you smell? What can you feel?
- Get green fingered and grow your own herbs or vegetables
- Make a DIY bird feeder
- Create a bug hotel
- Build a den
- Use twigs, leaves, pebbles, flowers etc to create some simple patterns or try some size ordering or counting.
- Explore your local area or find your nearest National Trust property
- Make mud pies!
- Use chalks to create some giant pieces of art
For more ideas hop over to my guest post for iChild on Outdoor Learning in the Spring
So what are you waiting for? Sign up, get inspired and spread the word!
This is a collaborative post.