Case study – Outdoor learning environment

Outdoor classroom created with the reception class at St Benedict’s Primary School, Leeds. Funded by Creative Partnerships.

We developed ideas together, I constructed most of the structure with the children and the class teacher – developing many skills.

  • embedding maths with measuring, counting, weighing, and sorting
  • developing their gross and fine motor skills with carrying, sawing, hammering, digging, drawing.

We made 2D and 3D artwork to hang on the structure:

  • animal habitats including a bug hotel to attract insects.
  • a mini-greenhouse where we grew seeds.
  • mobile communication and drawing boards.

I facilitated loose parts and natural play with a supply of natural timber for construction, and half made a den for ongoing investment by the class. We developed a whole class story telling area with a circle of sunken timber posts with log stools, and created a live willow tunnel and planted willow to grow through the whole structure.

The enquiry question was how could we use creativity to develop the childrens speaking and listening skills. I worked on group dynamics: turn taking, vocalising and sharing ideas with each other, reflection on work – but also more creatively with role playing e.g. when making nests the children had to fly around the garden, collecting hidden materials and tweeting to each other – relaying the specific tweet sound pattern back to their partners on their return. I repeated this with the teaching staff at an INSET session.