Outdoor Learning

We have detailed here on our website a typical pre-school session at Hambledon Nursery School, but in truth no two days are ever the same. The sessions are varied and always exciting and we provide children with a wide variety of enhanced, and real-world experiences such as cooking, using clay, woodwork activities, sewing or weaving. Some of our greatest adventures however happen in the great outdoors.

Encouraging children to develop a love of the outdoors is a fundamental aim of our bespoke curriculum and we make the most of the beautiful and extensive outside space that we are so fortunate to have. Through this outdoor learning children begin to understand the need to respect and care for the natural environment and all living things.

One feature of our provision is getting outside for Forest School sessions regularly. In these sessions we especially encourage our children to explore the natural world and to use natural materials to create something fun. For example, making mud pies, jumping in big piles of leaves, or creating stick men. We also go on woodland walks exploring in the local community and visiting woodland nearby.

The children are outside daily whatever the weather (except in the most extreme weather conditions). We encourage the children to play, explore and learn in the nursery’s natural environment and encourage a connection to nature throughout the changing seasons.

Learning outdoors is a unique way of building, self-esteem, independence and a positive attitude towards learning. Our role as teachers is often to assist children’s play, rather than to lead as we allow the children to explore freely in the natural surroundings of the nursery school.

Positive Benefits

Being in the Moment

When we engage in forest school style sessions, or make use of our outside spaces at playtime, often the key benefit is simply the pleasure of being immersed in nature. That moment of stillness and calm that nature provides. The simple pleasure of laying on your back to watch clouds change shape, or quietly listening to bird song. This is proven to lower stress hormones and improve observation skills.

Play Pretend

We do not bring commercial toys into a dedicated forest school session and children begin to create toys through their imaginations. This improves their language and social interaction skills as they verbally need to communicate what they are creating in order to play their imaginary games.

Say it Loud

Being outside can be a pleasantly noisy place, full of creaks, snaps and rustling noises. Children love being outdoors because they have licence to be ‘loud’ and perhaps roar like a lion or stomp like a dinosaur. We encourage children to use their voices and exercise their strength by being as loud and noisy as possible. This is linked strongly to lowering stress levels and can help regulate strong emotions.

Movement & Motor Skills

Through playing outside and building dens, climbing low level trees, balancing along logs, or being aware of a campfire lit in the proximity, we see improvements in children’s balance and agility, manual dexterity, physical coordination, tactile sensitivity, and depth perception. Children who engage in such activities on a regular basis experience fewer injuries due to accidents and have the improved ability to assess risks themselves.

Focus & Attention

Being in nature helps to improve children’s attention spans as they listen for instructions to keep themselves safe around a campfire for example, or while becoming deeply engrossed whittling wood. Being under open sky tends provide space to pay attention to the detail in their environment, to study the pattern on a frosted leaf, or to wonder at a worm wiggling into the soil.

Health & Wellbeing

According to studies, and through our own observations, we have noticed that playing outside improves the overall health of children. Regular fresh air and exercise over the winter months helps to combat the spread of colds and allows their immune systems to be exposed to the wider influences that helps strengthen them.

The children are free to choose amongst many activities, some introduced by the teachers, but many are child initiated. These are just a few of the activities we do outside in our empty classroom sessions or dedicated forest school sessions.

  • Bug Hunting
  • Mud Painting
  • Making collections of leaves or other natural items for sorting and counting
  • Large scale art using big sticks and other naturally found materials
  • Shelter building
  • Creating an obstacle course using wooden blocks and logs
  • Fire lighting for Marshmallow toasting, popping corn, baking banana or toasting bread
  • Drilling conkers and using woodwork tools for projects such as making a toy, a mallet, or a coaster
  • Water play using sprinklers and making a water slide on the grass

Please get in touch for further information