Parachutes outdoors are great!

Monday, 24 December 2012

Mini Forest School

As our final trip outside in 2012, we invited Simon and Rob, 2 countryside rangers to come and do a mini forest school session for an afternoon.

Rob played forest games with half the class, while Simon used sticks (we'd collected last week and dried in the classroom) to light kelly kettles and we made hot chocolate!

                                        The class enjoyed making sparks with fire steels!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Reindeer decorations in the woods

These are made using clay, sticks, googly eyes or natural ones like beech nuts and pom poms.  Red berries would have been more natural but there is a lack of berries round the school this year.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Scottish Reading Hour - outside

Scottish Reading Hour was part of Scottish Book Week and fell on St Andrew's Day.  We went out to the woods and as it was frosty and cold I played my penny whistle while 30 P4s danced some Scottish dance steps to warm up and celebrate St Andrew'sDay!

Once we were warm everyone selected a spot to go to and read for 20 mins.  It was interesting to see many pupils now have a favourite tree which they always go to in our free play sessions and many returned to their favourite spot to read a book.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Been a bit busy indoors recently with concert rehearsals and other indoor activities!  Need to get outside soon!  Plans are to go out to woods this week and make up our own woodland games - we are doing instructional writing at the moment so can link this in to our literacy work.  

Next Friday (30th Nov) is St Andrew's day in Scotland and Scottish Book week so am thinking up ideas to celebrate both outside. Any ideas welcome!  

May have an outdoor rehearsal for our Christmas concert!  That would be good for voice projection etc!  The play is called, "The Little Match Girl" so is set outdoors on a cold day - perfect for getting into role!

Off to plan some more and hope to post more activities soon.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Spooky Nature

Today, a freezing cold, sunny day,  we went outside and up to the woods to play some games of "Bat and Moth" which the class love then followed a spooky nature trail...

The pupils followed the trail, memorising the phrases and objects as they went, then made a list in their outdoor notebooks.  Once finished they worked in pairs to make poems using the objects and phrases.

Great fun!

The stickers came from the "Nature Detectives" website - very useful site for ideas and resources.

Next outdoor activity - mini rockets and art work for Bonfire Night...

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Forest Celebration Day

60 P4 pupils enjoyed activities in the woods for FSC Friday!

In the morning we had a design a T shirt competition to win a T shirt (kindly donated by the FSC).  Later, we headed outside into the beech woods to sing a rainforest song, make clay animals and then make wee shelters for them.  

A scorpion! (we have been studying rainforests as well as our beech woods!)

 Beautiful beech wood in the autumn sunshine

 snail and hedgehog

shelter for clay animals

 a big shelter for a small clay mouse!

 A few groups made their shelters up trees which I hadn't anticipated...interesting!  One group said they were making an appartment block with flats for their creatures on different floors...maybe a reflection of their personal experience of housing?  Other groups just enjoyed climbing up to make a shelter like a tree house.

 One girl made this amazing mask with her parents at home last night.  She hung it up on this stick to keep it safe while she made her shelter.

 An appartment - work in progress...

A more typical shelter, using a lean to design for this snail.

What struck me was the enthusiasm for being in the woods, with everyone on task all afternoon and only one child asking to go to the toilet in 1 and a half hours, usually unheard of for our P4 classes!  It was so lovely to watch children climbing up and sitting in trees to make their clay models.  Some of the boys were hanging on branches telling me they were a monkey, sloth or snake!  Really acting out our rainforest project.

From the start I have been keen to relate the rainforests to our own Scottish woods as the children are far removed from the rainforests.  Instead of worrying them with tales of cutting down rainforests, we have looked at how important woods are and celebrated our own woods, with minibeast hunts, tree identification walks, leaf collecting, exploring our woods and now using our woods as a place to sing, do art and for design and technology.  We are finishing this topic in 2 weeks but this wont be the end of our visits here...this resource on our doorsteps is far too valuable.

Plans are for some free play sessions, spooky (halloween) trail, firework pictures (using leaves and twigs), reading Burn's poems in the woods  and lots more...come back soon to find out...

Saturday, 15 September 2012

FSC Celebration Day

The FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) are promoting FSC Friday to celebrate woodlands on Friday 28th September.  Both of our Primary 4 classes are taking part and the pupils will plan a Forest Celebration Day next week.  I wonder what ideas they will have...

There is a good website and other info about the day, some competitions and resources to use for this event.

More woodland story writing

This week we returned to the woods to get more story ideas for our rainforest stories.  This time I read out some of the pupil's work from last week as we sat in a clearing in the woods. I really enjoy story telling outside and everyone was listening really well.  We did some more exploring and noted down useful adjectives then back in for our writing session.  The pupils were eager to get writing and their enthusiasm was even more than last week.  No one said they didn't know what to write and some were reluctant to stop at break time.  I had to cancel my lesson after break as so many wanted to carry on with writing for longer and no one complained about writing for another 30 minutes.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

What are P4 learning outside?

This week I planned to write stories about a walk in a rainforest.  There is a book called, "Where the Forest meets the Sea" by Jeannie Baker which I was going to use as a stimulus for writing.  We have also looked at photos from I visit I made to the Amazon rainforest and we have looked at other books to get an idea of the setting.

I am very keen to interest the class in our own local woods as rainforests are far away, but our own forests are on our doorstep so we started our writing lesson by heading outside into the beech wood and I let the children pretend they were explorers and they could head up to the end of the forest we can access but they had to leave the path and head through the trees and undergrowth.  They had a lot of fun even though it is a narrow strip of trees and they were never very far from me.

At the top end of the woods we stopped and they sat in a circle while I read the book to them and we discussed the pictures.

Next we ventured into an area of scrub and younger trees (mixed woodland species) where there was no path and they had to follow me as I made my way through the easiest route.  They stuck close together and found the whole walk quite an adventure!

Back in class they started to write enthusiastically and produced some wonderful writing.  They included getting scatched by branches, the smell of the damp mosses and several things from our real woodland walk.  They added in toucans, vines and jaguars.

I wonder how many story writing sessions could start outside?

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Back to School!

After 7 long weeks off for summer, term started last week.  This year I have a Primary 4 class so a bit of a change from P7s!

We have been working outside everyday except yesterday when torrential rain and strong winds swept through Aberdeen.

So far we have chanted our 4 times table outside - while doing a kind of dance!  Great fun!  A different pupil makes up the "dance" each time and it definitely keeps us fit. We  used the 1 - 100 number line painted outside the school to jump along the 4 times table - now every time we go up to the playground my P4s insist we do our 4 times table on the number line which is fantastic.  Coming back from the woods today, they decided to do it backwards from 100 and many succeeded!

We hunted for right angles in the playground today then went to our "Rainforest" (our topic) to be explorers and look for wildlife.  The beech woods (AKA Rainforest) provided us with many creatures with the favourites being chubby orange slugs and woodlice.  The excitement...the smiling faces...they absolutely loved it!

We've used our 1 - 100 number square too and stood on numbers in the 4 times table but this is more tricky at the moment than the number line.

Friday, 29 June 2012

Play Day - using water

 A very small paddling pool, some plastic bottles, a boat and corks was used a lot!  Many  pupils enjoyed filling the plastic bottles and then trying to empty them as quickly as possible.  Some played with the boat and tried to sink it with the corks!

This was very popular and over 150 pupils (one of the P7s counted!) wanted to sit behind the tarp and get water sprayed towards them. In the morning the tarp was tied up so it was like a flat roof and water was poured on top but in the afternoon the P7s tried it this way.

Next time we will set up more opportunities for water play.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Free play - dens

Den building was popular with all all 8 sessions there were usually around 10 children involved in building dens.  Their skills were generally quite poor and most struggled to attach string and ropes to the sheets.  I found the same thing with my P7 class earlier this year when we did den building in the woods.  Tying knots is becoming a long lost skill! Also how best to use existing supports like trees and fences was a problem.

When discussing with their classes once back inside it was clear that very few of our pupils had ever built dens before...

It showed me that these are important skills we need to actually teach our pupils.

 The camo netting and colourful fabric were popular.

This was built by a mixture of P5s and P2s.  They didn't think to fix it to the fence to make it more stable in the strong wind.

Next time...come back to see how other resources were used on Play Day

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Free play with cardboard boxes and cardboard tubes

Play Day was successful and interesting to observe how different pupils played/used the resources so I am going to look at each resource separately.

Both boys and girls enjoyed the cardboard and plastic tubes, but it was predominately boys who used them. Every session (8 sessions during the day) saw around 10 - 15 boys continually playing sword fights, light sabre battles, weight lifting and making pirate ships with boxes and tubes. These were boys of all ages from 5 to 12!

The cardboard boxes were popular with boys mainly.  Lots wanted to sit inside them, especially the younger pupils.  If we had had much bigger boxes, I wonder if the older boys would have done the same.  This boy, in the photo below, spent a good 5 minutes in the box.  He closed all the flaps so you couldn't see him and then made a gap to look through.  He was very entertained by it!

At every session some pupils put all the boxes together to make a car or ship and worked collaboratively to role play, usually pirates!

Above is a pirate ship with bubble wrap sail!

The boxes and tubes (donated by a parent) were very very popular and amazing to see how much fun they got from them.

Two teachers commented that it was good to see the boys (mostly) getting some of their aggression out during sword fighting play and they said if they were allowed to play like this more often then they would be more settled in class.

Only 2 pupils out of around 450 got hurt when using the boxes and tubes and both were very minor injuries.

The only downside was when the drizzle came on, then heavy rain in the afternoon and the boxes got soggy and fell apart!

Friday, 22 June 2012

The value of Free Play

Yesterday was Play Day!  I heard about this event (play on the longest day) via Aberdeen Play Forum.

As most of my P7s were visiting their new secondary school on Wednesday and yesterday, I trained up my remaining P7s as Play Leaders and organised a whole school Play Day for over 500 pupils!

I explained the value of free play to the P7s and they were happy to encourage but not direct the P1 to P6 pupils creativity in free play sessions.

The training session involved looking at all the resources I'd gathered (a request to parents for sheets, netting, cardboard tubes, boxes etc brought in some resources too) and thinking how they might be used but leaving opportunities for open ended and undirected play.

We then went outside and tried out some resources to looks at ways of laying them out in our playground.  They suggested using an area with a softer surface for the cardboard boxes and tubes in case people fell from them if using them as cars, boats and sledges.  

The transparent tarp fitted over the "outdoor classroom" allowed for pupils to sit underneath on the seating provided.

The grassy area was deemed best for den building opportunities as the metal pegs would go into the ground, however they decided to put all the den building stuff in a few different piles on the playground surface to see what the P1 - P6 pupils would do with them....

 Trying out den building possibilities

 The P7s were fascinated by the water flowing down the playground! Some were racing the water!

 The P7s discovered how much fun running with a big sheet in the wind was!

 Setting up the transparent tarp - they decided it must have water sprayed on it and flowing down in on Play Day.

 Working out how to use the canes

 We had a beach shelter to play in - "but how does this work???!"

 tripod discovery!

The smallest paddling pool in the world gave some water play ideas!

By the end of Wed morning we were all enthusiastic and ready for Play Day...

Come back soon to find out how successful Play Day was...

Friday, 1 June 2012

Number facts

More number work in the playground today with chalk, the 100 square painted on the playground and the parachute.  We were investigating multiples, factors, square numbers and prime numbers today.  Most popular was jumping from 1 - 100 on the giant number square but only landing on numbers in a times table, square numbers and prime numbers (some big jumps required!).  After an hour of number work outside, my class settled very well to some indoor maths and language.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Play Day

We are taking part in Play Day on the longest day - June 21st.  Children are being encouraged to play creatively on this day.  With all the concerns about too much "screen time" I thought it would be great to get involved so have signed up our whole school to have extra play time on this day.

Each class will be timetabled for an extra 20 - 30 mins in the playground and they can choose how to play but there will be den making materials, tarps, plastic bottles, parachutes, large cardboard boxes, kites, ropes and any  thing else we can get parents to donate so creative play is encouraged.  It should be a fun day!

Poetry in the woods

At one of my courses, one participant told me about a poem she did with her class called, "In a Moment of Silence," inspired by a clip from the TV science series "Bang goes the Theory" where they recorded the sounds of centipede, snail and maggots in a special echo free room.

 The presenter used a simile when he described the maggots sounding like a bag of crisps rustling around the world.  Inspired by this, I tried it with my P7 class.We went to the woods to find as many creatures as we could.  They loved it and came up with some lovely poems but it was great to see older children so enthusiastic about small creatures and they were so careful with them and their habitats.

 So much inspiration sitting on al log in the woods, writing a poem...

 Looking for creatures in tree holes - this one was full of slugs!