Children thrive By Heading In To The Classroom Outdoors
Literacy and numeracy took on a different shape for children at Otatara School when they took part in the global initiative Outdoor Classroom Day last week.
Sport Southland Made to Move school facilitator Carla Werder, who spent the day with teachers and students in the bush near the school, said Outdoor Classroom Day was about celebrating and inspiring outdoor learning and play.
Research shows outdoor learning improves children’s health, engages them with learning and leads to a greater connection with nature. Play not only teaches critical life skills such as resilience, teamwork and creativity, but is central to children’s enjoyment of childhood.
The Made to Move team had worked with the school, Southland Community Nursery, and other organisations such as Otatara Pestbusters, to provide opportunities for the children to learn in the outdoor environment.
As well as having the opportunity to explore and play in the bush kindy setting near the Otatara Community Centre, the children also learned about pests, how pests could be managed and what they ate, and had sessions with the Southland Community Nursery.
“We are working with the Southland Community Nursery and have brought a whole range of activities…for children to go and play, but also to do learning as well, so learning about the environment, to respect the environment so they can become kaitiaki of their backyard here in the forest,” Werder said.
Otatara School teacher Yvonne Green, whose class spent the whole day in the bush environment, said the experience had opened her eyes to the potential of outdoor learning.
“One thing that as teachers that we noticed is that children who are often off task in the classroom and not showing the appropriate behaviour showed a totally different demeanour. Of those children, we saw children who are not normally leaders becoming leaders, and observing and sticking with those observations so really going into that close noticing, and that drew other children in.”
Children had also interacted with the environment in unexpected ways, such as the young boy who experimented with playing the drums on tree trunks.
“That opened up my eyes to the ways that the bush could be used to develop across a curriculum, particularly those sorts of things like music…It doesn’t need to be instruments in here (inside), you could actually interact with the bush in a musical kind of way.”
The children that took part in the day also said they enjoyed spending time in the bush.
“We liked spending time with other classes, and we liked spending the whole day in the bush.”
The children also said they enjoyed seeing things from a different viewpoint, talking to people they didn’t ordinarily get to spend time with, and learning new things.
For more information please contact Sport Southland communications advisor Cass Pokoney on 021 678 952
Caption: Otatara School pupils Makaia McLeod and Ryder Key, both 8, have some fun in the outdoor classroom space. Photo: Sport Southland