Children gain enormous benefits from learning outdoors. Being outdoors supports confidence, problem-solving and creativity in the company of other children. Physical activity is enhanced. So is calculated risk taking. In the outdoors, children's use of language is five times greater than indoors.
More children can identify a Dalek than an owl. In the last year 64% played outside less than once a week, 28% hadn't been on a country walk, 21% had never been to a farm and 20% had never once climbed a tree.
Ofsted recognise the importance of learning outdoors:
When planned and implemented well, learning outside the classroom contributed significantly to raising standards and improving pupils' personal, social and emotional development.
Suntrap Forest Education Centre is situated in the heart of Epping Forest and has 7 acres of grounds, including an adventure playground with zip wire, ponds and a campsite.
They provide high quality outdoor learning activities for school groups from EYFS to A-level, and training and away days for staff. These activities support classroom-based learning by developing understanding through practical real world experiences.
Suntrap was among the first centres to be awarded the Learning Outside the Classroom quality badge, and has continued to hold this award since 2010.
Currently our centre is being refurbished and is currently 'on tour' visiting or running events in the local community.
Mud kitchens don't need to be fancy or expensive. They are simply made from mud and water and buckets, utensils, cups and whatever other resources you can find around your school or home.
A few tips for creating your mud kitchen:
A mud kitchen offers endless possibilities for learning, development and well-being for children.
Learn more about making a mud kitchen with this mud kitchen guide filled with tips and tricks.
Juliet Robertson has put together a useful resource detailing how developing creative and critical thinking in the outdoors is very much about teaching skills and learning strategies.
Learning through Landscapes has a range of training resources for working outdoors with early years.
The Woodland Trust has a range of simple but effective activities for children of all ages. Why not create a leaf storm, a sensory box, a tree stump drum or even a rustly leaf rattle!
For children with additional needs and disabilities, playing outside will gain stronger reactions than the levels normally shown for the same period of indoor play.
Play doesn't have to stop outdoors in the winter. The links below show some great ideas for activities outdoors
International Mud Day takes place on the 29th June each year. The aim of the day is to celebrate the good work practitioners do around the UK and internationally to support and encourage children to positively "get dirty". Though really you can celebrate International Mud Day any day of the year.
If you don't want the kids getting too muddy every day there are some great water games too.