SCHOOL’S OUT | Out in the fresh air

Smiles and all: grade one making shapes and phonics outside. Picture: supplied

Smiles and all: grade one making shapes and phonics outside. Picture: supplied

Usually, it’s: “Kids, go outside and play.’ This time it was: “Kids, go outside to your class.”

Chipping Norton Public School was one of 1300 primary schools which participated in Australia’s first Outdoor Classroom Day.

With the sun shining and spring weather in which to play, last Thursday was the ideal day for students to learn amid nature.

The purpose of Outdoor Classroom Day was to increase the hours children spend outdoors with many benefits to gain from nature, including productivity. There’s also rising concern about increasing indoor time with 90 per cent of adults claiming they spent every day outside as children compared with only 30 per cent today.

Learning in comfort: Grade 4 take part in the day. Picture: supplied

Learning in comfort: Grade 4 take part in the day. Picture: supplied

While some schools had an excursion to the Centennial Park Outdoor Classroom Day event, Chipping Norton Public School added their own twist and remained within their gates – tending to their own veggie garden and outdoor learning area.

Quiet and focused: kindergarten outdoor reading. Picture: supplied

Quiet and focused: kindergarten outdoor reading. Picture: supplied

One of the teachers who played a big role in organising the day was kindy teacher Caitlin Harris who said the whole school participated in different ways and the students responded well.

“We think there are a lot of benefits to outdoor learning and play. It engages students in a different way to the classroom and gives them the opportunity to explore, develop better social skills and better respect for nature, which they can’t do on their iPads,” she said.

“Some children struggle to pay attention indoors – with this they can get more engagement outside and it promotes an active lifestyle for the kids which is really important.

“Out parents and Bunnings helped invest in the school’s outdoor garden and learning space. We’re lucky we have a beautiful school with a lot of space we can use. We’ve formed a very inclusive environment and want to push outdoor learning more often.”

She said kindergarten outside activities included reading, maths lessons and science-technology-engineering-maths-inspired activities, or STEM. For example, kindy kids traced their shadows on the ground with chalk to monitor their change as the sun moved.

“The kids were really happy at the end of the day and we got positive feedback. It was a day where they were moving around, not just sitting down at their desks.”

  • Outdoor Classroom Day is a worldwide event. 
  • More: outdoorclassroomday.com.au.
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