Our Outdoor Classroom

“The best classroom and richest cupboard is roofed only by the sky”
Margaret Mcmillan (C1925)  
Outdoor learning is an integral part of the Early Years curriculum.  
Learning outdoors helps to develop children’s ability to problem solve and safely lets children explore and take risks.   It offers space which is particularly important for those children who learn best through active movement. It gives children the opportunity to have contact with the natural world and offers them experiences that are unique to outdoors, such as direct contact with the weather and the seasons.   It helps to develop healthy active lifestyles by offering children opportunities for physical activity, freedom of movement, and promoting a sense of well-being.  
In our Early Years at North Fawdon, we are lucky enough to have two brilliant outdoor areas.   We have a large space where children are able to move freely and explore.   Our smaller space is fondly named ‘The Small Garden’. This is seen as an extension of the indoor classroom. Small group activities and interventions take place here.
The Small Garden is a purpose built, all weather, outdoor classroom.      
The area is covered by a colourful Perspex canopy which shields children from all weather conditions.     Within the outdoor space there is a large sand pit which children can get into. The sand pit covers can be used as wooden tables for small group times.      
The Small Garden has a very rustic and natural feel with its earthy colours and natural resources.     Within the area there is a built-in music area with a stage for children to perform on.    
The Small Garden is primarily used for small group time, where up to twelve children play at one time. It is a fantastic area and all the children love playing in it.   We also utilize this space at a lunch time where small groups complete intervention activities
Our large outdoor area is linked as much as possible to our termly topics and is an extension to our indoor environment.   We have a free flow policy where children can move between environments. Within the space, we are lucky enough to have two large grass areas for children to play.    
Our large, wooden climbing frame effectively challenges both our Reception and Nursery age children. We have created learning areas to help children choose where they would like to play. Some areas are featured below.    
We have a Reading Area where children can comfortably enjoy books in our large tractor tyre, along with a Writing Area where we have large recycled cotton reels for children to sit at and write. There is stimulus to give children ideas about what to write.    
The outdoor space is a fantastic place to develop children’s imagination using our two role-play areas. There is a brilliant shed which with a bit of imagination can be turned into whatever interests the children.   Outdoor areas should be a place where children can be adventurous.    
We have a large Water Area with guttering for children to explore. Big water play excites children. We have outdoor waterproof suits which let children explore the water freely. We also have a mud kitchen where getting messy is the aim. Mud pies galore are created in this area! Children use real cooking utensils to make their creations.    
Noise is not an issue when outdoors, which is why we have begun to create a large music area where children can be as loud as they want. This is a very popular area! Developing physical skills has an integral role within the Early Years curriculum.    
Within our Outdoor Area we have places where children can develop both their fine and gross motor skills. Play equipment such as bikes and cars are a plenty and we have a fantastic track for children to ride on. We have large stepping stones for children to develop their coordination and a “Funky Fingers” table where fine motor activities are left out for children to explore.