Reception Class - Under Sea Cave

The underwater caveemerging through  the 'seaweed'Now that's what I call messy!

Reception Class - Under Sea Cave
Big , wet and messy! Just what they all really enjoy! As part of their "under the sea" theme we made a big dark den, and painted the inside black. Some children just had to get the paint in their hair, and some parents were not amused, although the learning points were well explained! The children thoroughly enjoyed the construction, planning which big bits of cardboard should be used, using duct tape to fix them, waterproofing it with a shower curtain, painting the inside and outside, then making "seaweed" around the entrance as a finishing touch. It has survived several week of rain and still looks good!

The practicalities of water outside.

The practicalities of water outside.
We all know how important water is, but access to water is often cited by teachers and early years practitioners as a problem that inhibits their use of outdoor spaces for enriching learning and play. (Growing, science, maths etc.)  Here are a couple of examples of a permanent supply with the added safeguard of a secure adult control to ensure it is not left running! It's fun of course for children to access self regulated water supplies, transporting it around for themselves  with all the engagement and learning that goes along with it. There are lots of ways to provide temporary water supply, from butts to water rollers, however where a permanent supply is possible these examples are a practical solution to a universal problem.


Problem - we need a birdbath.

Problem-we need a birdbath. Solution?-make our own
The after school club is leading the work on our Growing Garden development, and last term they made a “tufa” birdbath. This is involved a lot of careful measurement, calculating proportions of the ingredients, and working co-operatively to make a thorough mix of the materials before adding water and sculpting the bird bath in the mould.  Working outside in our Nature Lab meant there was no problem with making a mess!  The children also discussed the health and safety implications of working with cement and were proactive in managing the risks.
The birdbath was left over the summer holidays to cure. It was exciting to unveil it this term. Result! The Nursery children helped to transport the birdbath to the garden where it will have a permanent home  and provide essential water for birds and insect life.

Fresh Baked on an open fire!


Freshly Baked on an open fire!
Year 5 had a great end of term science workshop baking bread outside on a very windy day.  Our Risk/Benefit Assessment allowed us to modify the activity to make it safe despite the wind (so no dangerous sparks!) The class prepared the dough in the morning, and by after break it had risen and was ready! This generated lots of good questions about why, how, yeasts etc. and discussion about the best design of rolls/loaves to cook ouside. The design of the makeshift outdoor oven was also a great science activity! What a challenge to get the heat on top as well as underneath, and how NOT to burn the rolls before they were cooked in the middle! Camp fire songs gave way to practicing the christmas songs, and then everyone enjoyed a taste of their own baked bread. Word spread around the school, along with the smell of freshly baked loaves!

Irreversible Change

irreversible change

Irreversible Change
This is a Yr 6 topic that covers the science of combustion, and the fire "triangle" but is often taught without using real fire - why?
In this activity we selected a range of natural and man-made materials, and tested them over an open fire. (It didn't need to be a bonfire! just a small one...) and we used long tongs to test each sample.
The children were fascinated, and asked some very pertinent questions about how the different hard material samples burnt and the different smells they emitted. They were also very interested in way that different fabrics burnt or just melted, or even self-extinguished! .....all provoked some good scientific thinking.
Can anyone add any more ideas to extend this activity further?

Jam and Smelly Eggs

flossing fingers

Jam and Smelly Eggs

"I'm going to get my mum to do this tonight, cover her fingers with jam
and show her how to use the floss!"
Not outdoor learning I know, but this was memorable learning in action.
Yr3 were finding out about healthy teeth, good food choices, and keeping
teeth clean. Flossing fingers covered in jam was one activity, and
another was seeing how acids destroys calcium (using boiled eggs as a
substitute)... great fun!

Modeling mythical animal jaws
As part of the same Yr3 teeth topic we used found objects from the
school grounds (along with an alarming colour of plasticene for the
gums) to construct carnivore, herbivore and omnivore jaws for mythical
monsters. This generated good conversations about the kinds of foods the
monsters ate. Bark chips make great incisors, twigs for the canines, and
stones for the molars. Active hands-on learning for all!

herbivore jaw