Maths is all about making sense of the world around us. Outdoor learning environments offer the perfect place to apply mathematical concepts taught inside the classroom.

 

As Eddie Woo (Australia’s Local Hero) has suggested; the best thing for students is to be willing mathematicians, not excellent mathematicians. He talks about maths “being a search for fundamental insight, a spirit of inquisitive exploration and a source of joyful surprises” All of these endeavours are supported with learning outside the classroom.

 

Environments that are diverse in nature and open ended have a positive impact on the opportunities for maths skill development.

 

BEGINNINGS OF ROPE LEARNING

Ten ways to use ropes for learning

  1. Explore your environment to see what is longer / shorter than a 1m length of rope.
  2. What structures can your 1m length of rope fit around? A great introduction to circumference.
  3. Use your rope to make 2D shapes on the ground. Measure the lengths and angles in these shapes.
  4. Work in small groups to create a picture with your ropes.
  5. Coil your rope into a ‘snail shape’ and fill this with objects in a repeated pattern.
  6. Take a 25 metre length of rope outdoors and draw a line at 1m intervals using a permanent marker to create giant number line.
  7. Use your oversized number line for counting up and down.
  8. Create your own number game using a large number line.
  9. Place items in an order against the number lines – guess what attributes or measurement others have ordered their items with.
  10. Place all of your ropes in one big line. Do they go all the way to one hundred? What happens if you change the value of each interval to be 10 or 100?  What is the largest number you find?

 

SHOW AND TELL TIME

VIDEO COMING SOON

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Story Stones and more 

Story stones are a versatile resource and can be used for play, structured lessons and student-led inquiry. Learning some basic skills to create diverse characters is fun and engaging.

 

Learn how to create features on stones with cartoon tutorials and an inspiration card provided here in this Cartoon Drawing kit

 

 

Once characters have been developed, get busy creating story stones of places, transport, storybook characters, magic creatures, famous landmarks  and more to add to your collection.

Use these story stones to play games to develop sentence structure and vocabulary.

 

CREATE YOUR OWN ISHI ADVENTURE

Another way to use stones for storytelling!

 

Read the story of Ishi the Rock and innovate on this with your own ‘Ishi’s’ exploring the outdoors for fun, relaxation and adventure.

 

 

Ishi the Rock – Simple Tips from a Solid Friend by Akiko Yabuki

 

SHOW AND TELL

 

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Exploring patterns in your natural and built environment  is an open-ended task as any one ‘wondering’ or discovery can lead to many, many more.

 

Two books that provide a great starting point for exploring patterning in nature are –

 

Mysterious Patterns and Growing Patterns by Sarah C Campbell

(Both available in the Nature Play SA online shop)

 

Growing Patterns : Sarah C. Campbell : 9781590787526

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fractals and Fibonacci

Two ways for students of all ages to explore the wonders of patterning in nature.

Find out more about fractals found in nature here 

Primary students – find out more about Fibonacci in nature here

 

 

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LOOSE PARTS FOR TEACHING AND LEARNING

 

Learn more about loose parts from the hand picked and home grown resources below

 

 

BLOG POSTS 

A blog post by Juliet Robertson exploring the origins of loose parts and much more – available here

 

LOOSE PARTS TOOLKIT –  Written by Juliet Robertson and Theresa Casey for Inspiring Scotland

 

The most comprehensive toolkit for loose parts with everything covered from auditing, storing, risk assessing and every day use of loose parts available here 

 

NATURE PLAY SA DOWNLOADS TO GET YOU STARTED 

 

Nature Play SA – 50 Things with loose parts Primary Years

 

Nature Play SA – 50 Things with loose parts Early Years

 

Nature Play Downloads – Loose Parts Info Sheet

 

SHOW AND TELL

Take a look at this video, where we go on a walk through of loose parts.

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THE POTENTIAL OF STICKY LEARNING

 

Sticks are open-ended elements that encourage children to be creative, imaginative, and exist in worlds where they have full control. They can be an inventor, creator, director, engineer or scientist. What does a child imagine when they have a stick in their hands and what stories will they create if we allow them?

 

THE STICK AGREEMENT

Before exploring the world of sticks, discuss with your children how they should and shouldn’t be used. By forming a mutual stick agreement you can empower students to govern their play and ensure they are aware of how to keep their play environment, and the children within it, as safe as necessary. The agreement can also include how large sticks are carried and how to be respectful of the natural environment when sourcing sticks.

Suggestions for safe and constructive stick play include;

  • Walk when carrying a stick
  • Always have one end in hand and the other pointing to the ground
  • Carry large sticks with one end in hand and the other end on the ground behind you
  • Never point a stick
  • Sticks are used for constructive and not destructive play

 

Take a look at own very own 50 things to do with a stick for more inspiration.

 

Nature Play SA – 50 things to do with a stick EARLY YEARS

 

Nature Play SA – 50 things to do with a stick PRIMARY YEARS

 

SHOW AND TELL TIME

 

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An introduction to nature journaling 

Record the day / time / weather / wind

Sketch what you can see around you – up close and far away.

Sketch what you can see in the sky and down at the ground.

Draw flowers and trees that you can see. Can you copy their shape?

Draw, trace or rub over leaves that you find.

Can you see any wildlife around? Record what they are doing

Make a prediction: what do you think will happen in this space in the coming weeks or months?

 

 

More about nature journaling

More about sit spots

 

 

Go Wild provocation cards

The ‘Go Wild with Nature Play SA’ digital resource pack, contains a series of nature and wild space lessons, activities and inspiration cards to print off and use at school and home.

There are six lenses to outdoor exploration using the Go Wild challenge cards.

  • Exploring sense in nature
  • Noticing  nature
  • Finding nature
  • Creating nature inspired art
  • Spending time in nature
  • Spend time in natural settings

Download them here

 

What would it feel like to take learning outside and do something wild every day?

What might your class investigate, explore and create?

How might these experiences be shared, reflected upon and harnessed as multidisciplinary learning opportunities?

 

 

Mental Health and Wellbeing

We know that engaging with nature is good for our brains and good for our bodies. It calms our minds and ignites our senses. We also know that it takes time to create new habits, routines and rituals. These fun, engaging and simple challenges, might just create the healthiest new habit for you and your class!

 

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There are many ways that leaves can be used for creative arts, imaginative play, maths and literacy.

 

As seasons change, the colours of nature afford us unique opportunities to experiment with colour, texture, smell and taste.

 

Leaves can be used to create Andy Goldsworthy inspired art, to press into pages of a book for future study, to crunch and crush whilst exploring texture and smell, to rub under paper or cloth for printing and to springboard into mathematical concepts of symmetry, shape and patterning.

 

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Stepping out is all about taking the small, but significant step to embracing learning outside the classroom. Lessons can be as structured or as open-ended as necessary; often more structure to begin with steadily leads to more student-led inquiry once everyone develops their ‘outdoor learning legs’..which is the beauty of outdoor learning.

 

RESOURCE TO GET STARTED

Getting Going with Outdoor Learning has the structure you need to begin teaching outdoors. For more great ideas, check out Juliet Robertson’s books Messy Maths and Dirty Teaching.

 

GLOBAL DATABASE 

Take a look at this resource database, provided by Outdoor Classroom Day to find ideas and inspiration for curriculum linked outdoor learning.

 

 

SHOW AND TELL 

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Read about the benefits of an outdoor classroom here

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A sit spot is a favourite place in nature you visit regularly to quietly sit, listen and look at plants, birds, trees and animals. 

 

Establishing a sit spot routine and spending a small amount of time outdoors on a regular basis, will introduce students to the idea that there are many different ways to connect with their natural environment. It will allow for conversations about noticing, slowing down, being calm and ‘doing a lot whilst seemingly doing nothing.’

 

SIT SPOT CHALLENGE

Download the Nature Play SA guide to sit spots and nature connection here 

 

WATCH – Muddy Puddles and Painted Sunsets 

A short film by Nature Play SA exploring children’s connection to the natural world and the many opportunities for exploration and adventure within it. This might provide a stimulus for conversation and reflection with students of all ages. Watch it here 

 

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A WORD ABOUT SIT SPOTS 

A MINUTE FROM A SIT SPOT IN WITTUNGA

 

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A word about language development 

There is a growing body of research that highlights the capacity for natural environments to support complex and diverse use of language. Children use more descriptive language in natural environments and the environment in itself, supports children to engage in varied conversation and incidental peer to peer communication.

 

The following activity provides just one way (and there are many) to use the natural world for language development.

 

Words from the trees

Touch the bark of one tree.

Look up at the top of that tree.

Look around the base of that tree.

Now – write down 10 (or 3 or 5) words to describe that tree.

Move to a new tree and repeat.

Complete this process with leaves.

All of these words can be used to create a word wall or poem.

 

What not try … 

  • Tree poems can be placed at the base of each tree to form an outdoor poetry walk
  • Play a game of ‘What am I?’ and give three clues to guess exactly which tree you have in mind
  • Try this with sticks, stones, bark, small pieces of wood – anything at all.

 

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