Every curriculum subject can be enhanced and more be accessible to children where outdoor nature play provision is used effectively, promoting active involvement (Edgington, 2002).
Why take our children outside of the classroom?
Using your outdoor environment in your school or centre offers the opportunity for a more inclusive and accessible curriculum for all learners, due to its naturally active multi-sensory appeal.
The great news is Nature Play's Passport to an Amazing Childhood are a free and interactive resource which provides teachers, parents, carers and children with access to hundreds of outdoor nature play missions and lesson ideas.
Children learn most effectively about themselves, other people and the world when they are actively using all their senses and movement within a supportive outdoor environment (Reily, 2000). It is suggested that specifically the contact with natural objects and the environment has a positive impact on children’s learning and motivation (Kahn and Kellert, 2002).
The results of numerous worldwide studies report that children who play outdoors more;
- Achieve higher results in the knowledge and skill acquisition;
- Increase their physical health and motor skills;
- Socialise and interact in new and different ways with their peers and adults;
- Show improved attention, enhanced self-concept, self-esteem and mental health
- Change their environmental behaviours for the positive, as do their values and attitudes and their resilience to be able to respond to changing conditions in their environment.
Every Experience Matters, Malone, K. 2008
Simple ideas for increasing outdoor learning with your class:
- Explore the natural areas of your school grounds with your students. Go outside and make maps of the school grounds, including all the natural areas.
- Take your class outdoors for ‘daily grounding’. Ask them to remove their shoes and spend 10 minutes walking or standing on the grass.
- To build self-regulation and self-risk assessment skills in children, do safety walks around natural areas of the educational setting. Ask children about what they need to think about when playing in these areas in relation to their safety.
Provide loose parts for children to play with in the playground (branches, sticks, rope, crates, wood, etc.) and allow them to create whatever they can dream up.
Good news! Here at Nature Play QLD we understand how busy our teachers are. This is why we are currently developing Nature Play Qld School Packs which will include; lesson plans, risk assessments, outdoor learning policies and much more. Watch this space…
Tips to Incorporate Nature Play into Your Educational Setting:
- Assign Nature Play QLD activities as in-class projects and use our Passport to an Amazing Childhood program to share their experiences in writing or artwork.
- Discuss in the classroom why it is important for our minds and bodies to play outdoors. This conversation could complement our Licence to Play (Outdoors) program, which promotes children’s confidence in their outdoor play competences.
- Assign nature play missions as homework with our Nature Play passports and the Licence to Play (Outdoors) program.
- Engage Nature Play QLD to come to you to demonstrate and facilitate nature play workshops through our Little Adventure Days program for your young students.
- Find inspiration for nature play activities for children aged three and under with our 99 Things to Do Before You’re 3 program for infants and toddlers.
- Do everything you can to increase children’s opportunities for self-directed play outdoors in all settings; at school, at home, in child care, the community and in nature.
- Connect with Nature Play QLD, so that we can support you in your journey.
Ideas and detailed instructions for using the Nature Play Passport to An Amazing Childhood in schools or large groups
The Nature Play Passport is popular with teachers, early childhood educators, environmental educators, outside school hours care providers, and community groups. They can be ordered in bulk to cover a class, whole school or group of any children. With over 400 missions on the Nature Play Passport Online Interface, there are missions to suit every individual child, aged 3 to 12 years. This page provides ideas and detailed instructions for using the passports in education.
Edgington, M. (2002). The great outdoors. London: BAECE.
Reily, J. (2000). Learning in the early years. London: Paul Chapman Publishing.
Kahn, H. and Kellert, R. (2002). Children and nature: psychological, sociocultural, and evolutionary investigations. London: The MIT Press.
Malone, K. (2008) Every Experience Matters: An evidence based research report on the role of learning outside the classroom for children’s whole development from birth to eighteen years, Report commissioned by Farming and Countryside Education for UK Department Children, School and Families, Wollongong, Australia.