BBC Teach and Winterwatch are teaming up for a very special Live Lesson at 11am on 28 January 2021. Our education consultant, primary teacher and independent primary science consultant, Claire Seeley, talks to us about why outdoor learning is so important.
Over this last year, many of us have spent more time outdoors. We have seen first-hand how being in our natural world is good for both our physical and mental health. Many schools are moving a lot of learning outdoors and for good reason; when children have frequent opportunities to learn outdoors, we know that their enjoyment of lessons increases and they feel happier and more rooted in their local environment. Learning outdoors sparks moments of awe and wonder and is arguably one of the best settings for memorable learning.
We all remember those discoveries we make on our walks. The excitement of seeing something new, our first sighting of a barn owl or a newt beneath a log pile. Those magic moments create happy memories which stay with us. Imagine their power in an educational setting. As teachers, we can build those moments into important opportunities for memorable learning to take place. Outdoor learning is powerful; it changes children’s thinking and shows them how the learning from the classroom fits into the real world.
Mr Smith, our teacher presenter on the Live Lesson
A couple of years ago, my class were learning about classification. We wanted to give our children a real experience of this, so we joined the Big Schools Birdwatch. A few weeks before the big day, the children did a reconnaissance mission around the school to work out the best place for birdwatching. They made bird feeders and set up a feeding station. We discovered that the staffroom window was the best place to set up our hide. So, the children set up camp.
There was a palpable feeling of expectation and suspense as the children sat and waited. Would their feeders be successful? Which birds would they see at the feeders? It wasn’t normal for my class to sit in silence for more than a minute. But they did, quietly spotting different birds and identifying them. Their lessons on classification came alive.
Afterwards, the children uploaded their data to the Big Schools Birdwatch website. This was an important step for them. They loved the fact that their work mattered and that it contributed to something bigger, showing them that they are scientists and their voice counts.
The Big Schools Winterwatch Live Lesson is a wonderful example of how we can use outdoor learning to explore lots of the curriculum. During the lesson, we will be covering aspects of maths, science and literacy. Our presenters and Winterwatch experts will be teaching us how to identify birds, how to create a birdwatching guide and how to record our sightings as a graph. Our hope is that this will inspire children to get outdoors, get birdwatching for themselves and make those magical memories.