You may have already guessed, if you have been reading my blog for a while, that our family are great advocates for getting outdoors. Nothing makes me happier than when I get a message from somebody saying my photos have inspired them to go out exploring with their family.
Over the years we have been wild camping, den building, bushcrafting and foraging with the kids, who have now all built up a great knowledge of the natural world. And it is also proven that being outdoors does wonders for your mental health, I have seen this in myself, when I am out walking with our dog during the day, I instantly feel less anxious, being surrounded by trees and listening to the birds.
I've also noticed this when I am working the lunchtime shifts in school, we try to get all of the children outside rain or shine, but obviously on days of heavy rain, we stay indoors for playtime. Being stuck in for that hour makes such a difference to their behaviour that afternoon, if they haven't had the chance to go out and blow off some steam they start to bicker and become quite hyper.
More and more kids are spending less time outside these days, I'm not going to lie, now ours are getting that bit older, they love nothing more then curling up, watching YoutTube videos and playing computer games. It's not always easy to encourage them to leave the comfort of indoors and step outside.
This is why I think Outdoor Classroom Day is such a fabulous idea! My children are very lucky to have a school with a huge playing field surrounded by woodland. They have a poly-tunnel where they are growing vegetables and there is an eco club and, even better, they are just starting up a forest school. Teachers have found that when the children get to learn outdoors, their behaviour improves, their concentration is better and in general they are more creative and excited to learn.
On Thursday, May 23rd, 2019, thousands of schools around the world will be heading outdoors for the day of fun play and learning and it's not too late to sign your school up. So, that schools can participate on a day that fits with their term times, the UK and Ireland campaign has two dates each year. The next Outdoor Classroom Days are on Thursday 23 and May and Thursday 7 November 2019.
If you'd like some more information, both the Outdoor Classroom Day and Learning through Landscapes websites are full of resources for lesson ideas. So, if you are a parent or carer, maybe have a chat to your child's school and see if they are taking part this year.
In 2018 the scheme reached over 3.5 million children worldwide and over 550,000 in the UK and Republic of Ireland. It had coverage on BBC, ITV Cymru, TES, Daily Express, London Live, Evening Standard and Irish Times to name a few. It had government support, predominantly in Scotland where a motion was tabled on the importance of Outdoor Classroom Day and MSPs visited schools taking part. Also the Muddy Hands report was released, presenting the clear evidence for outdoor learning and play.
Here are a few ideas to get outdoors with your family:
Go on a foraging walk. In May you might be able to find some wild garlic, wood sorrel or even spot some fungi in the woods.
Do a minibeast hunt. See what creatures you can find lurking in the grass, look under stones or in the trees. See wish butterflies you can spot.
Try some outdoor crafts. You could do some leaf printing, or tree bark rubbing, or even make some mud monsters!
Make daisy chains. Search for wildflowers, blow some dandylion clocks.
Leaf identifying. Do you know your oak leaf from your sycamore? What colour are they? Maybe you could draw them.
Build a den. Gather some fallen branches and sticks and form a little den, it could be a great place for an adventure.
If you are interested in signing up you can do so via the website. Last year over 550,000 children in the UK and ROI took part in Outdoor Classroom Day, wouldn't it be great to top that this year?