Outdoor learning spaces to engage everyone

Outdoor learning spaces to engage everyone

Exploring the outdoors has long been recognised as a valuable learning opportunity for people of all ages.

In recent years, there has been a growing movement towards creating outdoor learning spaces that engage and inspire everyone. These spaces offer a wide range of benefits, from enhancing academic performance to promoting environmental awareness.

What is outdoor learning?
Outdoor learning is an educational approach that takes place outside of a traditional classroom setting. There are many different ways of outdoor learning, from simply taking a worksheet and pen and sitting on a bench outside to using the natural environment as a teaching tool and integrating outdoor activities into the curriculum. These can include nature walks, gardening, and outdoor science experiments.

Canopies have the power to enhance outdoor learning experiences in so many ways. By providing shade and protection from the weather, canopies create a comfortable and safe outdoor play space for children. Not only do they offer protection from the elements, but they also serve as a focal point for outdoor lessons and hands-on learning activities, ultimately making outdoor learning more flexible and enjoyable.

Check out the modular shelter recently installed at Ravensdale Infant and Nursery School, which is part of their Newcastle Monopitch style. Also, take a look at the exceptional learning environment Broxap contributed to at Cardiff West Community High School with their Double Conic canopies.

If you are looking for something more custom for your school, such as the canopy Broxap designed for Hanson Academy in Bradford, contact their specialist Design & Build team by clicking here.

What are the benefits of learning in the outdoors?
It's been proven that an outdoor setting can captivate students in a way that traditional classrooms cannot. A survey conducted by Outdoor Classroom Day showed that 90% of children in the UK are more engaged in learning outside in comparison to being in an indoor classroom.

Being in a natural environment can pique students' interest and curiosity, leading to a more enjoyable learning experience.

Other reasons to take learning outside include:

Promotes good health and well-being: Outdoor learning encourages physical activity, which benefits students' overall health and well-being.
Enhanced creativity and problem-solving skills: The natural environment provides a rich and diverse setting for creative exploration and problem-solving.
Connection to nature: By exploring and interacting with the environment, students can gain a greater understanding of ecological systems and biodiversity.
Reduced stress: The tranquillity and beauty of natural settings have been proven to be calming, providing a break from the pressures of traditional classroom settings.
Exposes children to new opportunities: Learning outdoors can expose children to new opportunities by sparking curiosity, providing sensory experiences, and offering hands-on learning and physical activity.
Reduced behaviour problems: Regular access to nature through outdoor learning in schools enables children to develop their understanding and capacity to deal with the world around them.

Outdoor learning ideas: Early Years, KS1 and KS2
In early years, outdoor learning focuses on sensory exploration, physical development and fostering a sense of wonder and curiosity about the world.

Activities can include sand and water play, mud kitchens, and outdoor art. It aims to develop children's gross and fine motor skills, as well as their understanding of the environment and nature.

In KS1, outdoor learning continues to prioritise sensory experiences and hands-on learning, but it also introduces more structured activities aligned with the curriculum. This may include outdoor maths activities, scientific investigations and literacy activities that encourage storytelling inspired by nature.

Outdoor learning becomes more integrated with subject-specific learning objectives in KS2. For example, the outdoors can be used as a context for learning about sustainability, ecology and environmental responsibility.

By taking the classroom outside, children can develop their problem-solving and teamwork skills through activities like orienteering and outdoor challenges.

Outdoor learning ideas: KS3 and KS4
For young people in high school, outdoor learning can include a wide range of activities across many different subjects.

Geography fieldwork, history reenactments, outdoor art and design projects, and physical education activities can all be taken outdoors to provide a refreshing and enriching learning experience.

Students can also engage in environmental studies, math and statistics projects, and much more, all while using the natural environment as their classroom.

Outdoor learning not only provides a change of scenery but also offers practical, real-world applications for the subjects being studied. Their previous blog provides further guidance about outdoor learning.

What do Ofsted say about outdoor learning in schools?
Ofsted actively encourages learning in the outdoors. In fact, Ofsted’s Early Years Inspection Handbook specifies that in order for a setting to receive a 'good' grading, children should have the opportunity to go outside to take part in physically active play and experience risk and challenge outdoors.

Broxap can help your school meet this specification with an outdoor canopy or shelter. An outdoor canopy provides shade during the summer months and protection from the wind and rain in the winter, allowing access to outdoor learning all year round, no matter the weather.

These useful additions not only mean outdoor learning activities can be held throughout the school year, but they also extend the usability of the space, lending it to assemblies, presentations and performances.

Shelters and canopies can range from timber gazebos, which accommodate a whole class, to playhouses and dens for imaginative and creative play among smaller groups.

Equipment for outdoor learning in schools
An essential aspect of outdoor learning is providing adequate shelter and protection from the elements. Canopies and shelters are the ideal way of doing so, allowing students to engage with nature while staying comfortable and safe.

At Broxap, we are dedicated to providing high-quality shelters and canopies to enhance outdoor learning experiences. All of Broxap's durable and weather-resistant structures create versatile outdoor spaces that can be used for educational activities in any weather.

Click here to browse our latest canopy and shelter offers. Alternatively, contact our friendly sales team on 01782 564411 or email info@broxap.com to find the perfect canopy for your school grounds.

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