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Learning Beyond the Classroom

“Outdoor Learning has always been a strong feature at Grimsdell with Forest School deeply embedded within our school curriculum. Learning beyond the classroom takes our ethos 1 step further with highly engaging lessons making the most of every space both within school grounds and around our local area.”

This year, our Year 1 team took the children out for a ‘Wheely Wonderful’ day. Using Mill Hill’s tennis courts to make tracks for scooters and go-karts they had brought in from home.

The Science garden has had a greenhouse installed and children are regularly taken out for lessons on classification, identification, planting and nature observations.

Our Early Years have been on visits to the local duck pond, post box, park and farm. Making the most of all that our local environment has to offer.

Outdoor Classroom Day 2022

This year was combined with May Day culminating in a day of celebration; celebrating the onset of spring, our beautiful space and the huge variety of skillsets our teachers bring to Grimsdell.

We ran a carousel of three main activities; enabling children to spend the whole day outside, applying their skills in new ways.

The Maypole workshop spread joy amongst both teachers and children as we danced to country music, weaving in and out making patterns on the poles. The whole school had a turn, including Nursery who very much enjoyed the games we played with the ribbons.

The large outdoor art was a huge success and proved to be a real showcase for the children’s incredible imaginative and collaborative skills.  We hope you enjoy some of the examples below.

The story walk was an opportunity for children to discover a book in a new way. The children walked through the Forest discovering pages from the book as they went. The book had no words so storytelling was left entirely to their vivid imaginations and we were impressed an excited to hear the fabulous stories that emerged.

Creativity was oozing out of every inch of Grimsdell’s grounds, and the children went home suitably tired. A fantastic day has been had by all!

Thank you to the Author Clare Thompson as her books ‘Rain Child’ and ‘Junk DNA’ provided a lot of the inspiration for the activities of the day.

“A high quality outdoor learning experience like the one offered at Grimsdell allows the children to take part in risk-assessed not risk-free activities.”

Our designated Outdoor Learning Area is a creative, organic and enticing space where children can develop skills in an entirely natural and holistic way.  It includes a rope swing, a water channel with loose parts to encourage problem solving and collaboration and large crates, stones, planks and other natural resources for the children to build, manipulate and create with.

The cabin has been designed to enhance our approach to Outdoor Learning at Grimsdell; providing sheltered access for all age groups to the outdoor learning environment and science garden.

There are secret hatches opening onto the Science Garden with binoculars at the ready so that children can sit and observe nature in its own environment, undisturbed. It also enables free flow access to Reception children, giving them greater independence and autonomy in their learning.

“When children are given unhurried time in an outdoor environment, their learning can have deeper meaning and create long-lasting memories” Pete Moorhouse in Booklet one of the Outdoor Learning Series by Community Playthings.

The Cabin has been carefully resourced to give the children a different experience to their regular classrooms inside the main building. Woodwork, deconstructed role play and large scale building are the frontrunners for favoured activities. We would like to thank the GPA for their donations as we were able to buy high quality building blocks of various sizes which are fantastic for enabling collaborative and imaginative play.

Naturally classroom environments still have huge purpose and are also wonderful spaces in which to think, learn and grow – particularly when our teachers go to such efforts to transform them into immersive spaces that reflect the thematic learning we offer at Grimsdell.

Any Outdoor Learning will work in conjunction with the time spent in classrooms, creating enhanced opportunities to utilise the outdoors creatively for learning and give outdoor learning the status it deserves in the education we offer our pupils.

The definition of a classroom is being revisited for all children, not just those of Pre-Prep age, following the large body of research in the Natural Connections paper that reports children are significantly more motivated, happier and healthier when they learn outside.

The project to develop this area and style of learning has been led by Emily Jenner our Head of Early Years and the school is hugely grateful to her for her vision and determination in making the most of the space.