At Hand Made Places we often talk about the benefits of outdoor classes and learning through play for EYFS and KS1 pupils.
However, learning through play isn’t just for the younger pupils. Interactive learning is also essential for older pupils, including those in KS2 and maybe even as we approach KS3.
That being said, play for these older pupils should take on different roles and will be much different to the types of play which we recommend for the younger pupils.
For example, children in the EYFS bracket can learn through play much easier than an older pupil as they are developing at a quicker rate. Therefore, when talking about learning through play for older pupils, it is important that it is much more structured with a definitive lesson plan and aim in mind.
That is why below we have outlined some brilliant play ideas/ activities which you can practise with your older pupils.
Helping make more complex lessons and theories much more enjoyable and easier to understand.
In this blog we will look specifically at science & maths lesson/ play activities which you can do using playground equipment already installed for the younger children.
Many playgrounds may already be host to a water tray or water pit.
These are great pieces of equipment which help to develop young minds by allowing them to experience a different medium.
Younger children gain so much from a water tray, and the older children can too. With a little imagination and a pinch of inventiveness we can ensure that these water trays can be used from nursery into year six!
Children can use a water tray, or buckets of water, to learn all about weight.
Children will have the pre-existing knowledge that some objects are heavy and they will sink in water, the same way that they will know that other objects are light and that they float.
Tip: Get children to identify some objects that they think will float and some that they think will sink, then gather them up and test them out!
Once you have done learning about the key ideas. You can set children the task to make something which they said was originally heavy and would sink and make it float. You can give them balloons to use and cardboard amongst other fun materials!
They are sure to enjoy making little rafts for their chosen object.
Another great activity using a water tray or water buckets, which you can do with KS2 pupils is getting them to do some weighing and measuring. This is a great activity as it combines both maths and science into one fun social and competitive game.
For this activity, pupils will need to transport liquid from one container to another. This can be using buckets or the Ocean Water Trays.
Children should be split into teams, then told to measure the amount of water in each tray using jugs. Once they have an accurate measurement, they should write it down and hand the jugs back to the teacher.
Tip: For this activity children are likely to get a little wet so it might be worth pre-planning and getting them to bring in some old clothes ahead of time.
The teacher should then hand each of the teams some different containers. There should be nothing too sensible, ideas include: a colander, spoons, a saucepan lid.
Pupils should then attempt to transport the most liquid from one container to the other in 10 minutes. Then at the end they can have the jugs back and measure how much they transported. The team with the most transported water is the winner!
For this pupils will need to work as a team, thus improving their teamwork skills, as well as having to think both logically and mathematically, improving amongst others their problem solving skills.
A great game for all!
At Hand Made Places we have an array of different water trays which are perfect for these activities as well as other brilliant lessons. For example demonstrating different physical states, phenomenon such as refraction and reflection and many other interesting lessons. And that’s not to mention all of the developmental opportunities for the younger children too.
Making water trays the perfect pieces of playground equipment for all primary aged children.
Growing and Nature:
Children in England who fall into the KS2 bracket will be learning all about mammals, animals, the food chain and natural habitats.
Making this next playground activity perfect for all budding young scientists.
As we have said many times outdoor learning and play is great for children’s health and well-being. But never has this been truer than when talking about teaching natural biology.
Children, especially those in the kinaesthetic learning bracket learn by doing, and experiencing, and that is why building habitats for animals is the best way to learn about them.
Pick a corner of the playground which you can cordon off or use a specialised planter and plant some flowers, grasses and fill the empty spaces with naturally occurring twigs, bark and other simple outdoor finds.
This will then create a sanctuary for small insects such as woodlice, beetles, and spiders. Children can then preserve that habitat and from this learn about important key issues such as deforestation, and global warming.
The Food Chain:
Yet another perfect biological activity is creating food chain diagrams or flip books.
This is another lesson which is on the curriculum, and this brilliant activity will make it more engaging and enjoyable for KS2 pupils.
Children can be set the task to go and find just one animal or plant which they find interesting. Once they find it they need to draw it, but be quick because you only have 15 minutes.
Tip: You could send your children out with school cameras or tablets if you have them and they could take a picture instead of drawing the animal.
Once they have their drawing they should go back to the classroom (indoor or outdoor) and tell everyone what they have found.
Then they should discuss what food chain that bug or plant is in. If for example they have a Ladybird, then they could say that a Ladybird eats an aphid and an aphid eats a rose.
The rose is the start of the food chain. However the Ladybird isn’t at the end …
So, in this case, they would need to find out what eats a Ladybird.
Once they have figured this out they should draw the food chain as a diagram or make a fun flip book.
Hand Made Places have a range of different playground equipment which is dedicated to growing and nature.
Play Units and Climbing Frames:
Tip: Please be cautious when utilising heights in both play and in lessons.
For our final learning activity we are talking gravity.
Again another topic which has been pulled off the curriculum. Children will love learning all about how they are standing on the earth, which is in fact a sphere.
For this small and simple game all you need is to collect some objects and allow children to stand at the tallest (and safest) point on the playground and drop their objects.
They will see that the objects will always fall/ be attracted to the ground. This is a great way to teach them about gravity.
Before you go outside to do this activity, you can show the pupils the video of the hammer and feather on the moon. As a great exciting way to get them in the mood for science.
Children will love this activity, and they will be even more excited about getting to play on their play units in the process.
Hand Made Places have many play units which are great for activities such as this.