Many children think going back to school means long days stuck inside watching the last of British summertime fade away! However, that doesn’t have to be the case. In fact, schools can (and should) offer fun, adventurous play in the freedom of the outdoors. At Hand Made Places we have a selection of outdoor classrooms and school playground equipment which mean that children can enjoy the joys of summer for just that little bit longer! What’s more, they can do this whilst learning through play.
So, let’s make going back to school fun and fruitful for everyone this year!
Learning through play
Young children learn best when they’re not aware that they are actually learning! Therefore learning through play is a great way to teach maths, science and literacy skills without children even noticing.
Many teachers already practise this in their classrooms, and have noticed how well it works. However, if you were to take that lesson outside we believe that teachers would see even more of a response.
Hand Made Places produces various equipment which can help to enhance core lessons, for example the Finger Maze.
These mazes teach fine motor skills, which are essential to younger children’s everyday development.
On top of that, they’re specifically designed to incorporate activities which enhance maths and science skills.
It doesn’t stop there! Children can use activity panels independently or with a friend.
Working in a group or with a partner on these mazes will promote teamwork and communication skills.
After developing these skills in play, children can bring them into the classroom, as well as applying them at home and in various other situations. They are skills which will support them as they transition through school and life.
Sensory and inclusive play is a particularly valuable aspect of supporting development in younger children!
Units such as the Sight and Colour totem encourage children to explore their senses, whilst exploring the science behind it. By placing these in a sensory garden you can help younger children to describe what they see, hear, smell, and so forth. Again, this can be incorporated into a science lesson, helping them to understand some of the concepts they’ll encounter throughout the education system.
Read our article on sensory play; a creative, inclusive alternative to traditional learning.
Furthermore, older children can also learn in a sensory garden; growing plants or vegetables is a fun and interesting way to learn about plant cycle phenomena such as photosynthesis. It really is a sure fire way to get children interested in core subjects at school.
Play is also a perfect time to develop a child’s reading, writing, and listening skills.
This is a statement schools all over the UK agree with; our Storytellers Chair is one of our most popular products! The idea is to give a specific seat to a designated storyteller, whether that be a teacher or a pupil. The chair can also be positioned in a small story circle. This way, you encourage a fully interactive story time.
To really make it feel like an act of play, you should work to encourage creativity and imagination alongside literacy.
For example, play sculptures can be used to represent characters!
You could even use a selection of outdoor musical instruments to add fun sound effects to the story.
Overall, this will make story time much more interactive and even more enjoyable, especially for younger children.
Take a look at our list of ideas for incorporating the arts into play.
As well as incorporating learning into outdoor play, children will also benefit from learning in an alternative environment. That’s even if the actual lesson content is exactly the same as it would be in an indoor classroom!
Outdoor classrooms provide a specialised learning area for pupils. They help children by offering freedom and a lack of restriction whilst maintaining the distinction between play times and lessons.
When learning in this kind of environment, children have the opportunity to sit with different people, therefore broadening their social group. It should also encourage children to become more involved in tasks and discussions. That’s because, without the structure of pupils’ usual tables, outdoor teaching removes some of the pressure of the classroom.
The traditional Darell Gazebo makes a great outdoor classroom, sheltering from rain and protecting against UV rays.
This sturdy timber structure is big enough to house an entire class and is also suitable for socialising or dining outside of classroom hours.
With a combination of guided and free-form learning outdoors, it’s easy to get children engaged with their education.
Whatever your involvement with schools, we hope you’re feeling inspired to combine learning with play; make this academic year fun and beneficial for both teachers and pupils alike!