Outdoor Learning is well and truly integrated into our Creative Curriculum using our beautiful grounds at Cranwell House. From Nursery through to Year 6, the girls are actively involved in memorable learning experiences outside the classroom.
Outdoor learning gives children the freedom to learn using all of their senses and it encourages creative and imaginative thinking. The practical, hands-on nature of learning outdoors also supports children’s understanding inside the classroom. At Cranwell we are able to create powerful learning experiences, which help our girls to develop a sense of place and a relationship with the environment.
One of the highlights of our Outdoor Learning has been the construction of a Celtic roundhouse, started by Year 4, as part of their theme on Local History. The girls were involved in all stages, from choosing a site to marking out the circle and the creating of wattle walls using hazel. All the materials were found in the school grounds and the thatching was donated by a local thatcher. Similarly, Year 3 have recently designed an up-cycled greenhouse out of plastic bottles located on our school allotment. Construction involved the girls and they have enjoyed growing a range of produce, which we have used in cookery projects or donated to the school kitchens for our lunch. The next outdoor project might be to build a WW2 bunker, a cob pizza oven or even an amphitheatre!
||Building the Bottle Greenhouse
||Carrying Bottles for the Greenhouse
Nursery are out and about every day exploring and learning in their immediate environment. The girls work in teams and develop their creativity using natural materials. They build campfires and learn how to stay safe around fire. Creating hedgehogs and insects using clay and natural resources has been a popular activity and they enjoy explaining to each other what they have created. Combining Outdoor Learning and Technology, Nursery have also been out filming and photographing bugs then speaking about the insects they have found. We all love looking at the footage from the cameras set up around the grounds to observe the badgers, deer and fox that share our school with us. We even had a litter of beautiful fox cubs this year.
Across the school practical Maths activities are often taught in our outside space where lots of mathematical language is used as the girls work together to investigate concepts or carry out shape and measure work. Year 5 have measured the heights of trees using trigonometry They renamed it trigonomo-tree!
Frequently girls are found learning outside related to Science. Observations of seasonal changes and photographic evidence taken such as leaves falling, buds growing and daffodils blooming. There is plenty of evidence of animals living within our grounds and so animal investigations are carried out through bug hunts and habitat studies. Year 6 have explored ecosystems in the school grounds through scientific enquiry based investigations and they have studied the behaviour of the birds that visit us. Our beautiful trees are a focus of interest and leaf hunts or tree identification are some of the activities that have taken place at Cranwell.
The inspiration and creativity that comes from the 11 acres of grounds here is remarkable. Beautiful poetry and descriptive writing ooze out of the girls as they sit and take in their surroundings. Being able to use all of your senses when describing and imagining is a huge asset when developing literacy. Year 4 have explored our outside space looking for springs –some trickle out of the ground and some that bubble up through the sandy soil. The girls heard some local folklore legends about springs and wells then made up their own ‘Cranwell’ spring legends with fairies, goblins and a green man. (We turned their ideas into e-books.)
There are plenty of opportunities in the grounds for Art through drawing, painting and sculpture. Andy Goldsworthy pieces and natural weaving are some of the examples as well as sketches of our remarkable trees, collaborative pieces and ephemeral artwork.
Year 3 have harvested fruits from the apples trees and hedgerows. The girls learnt how to make jellies and chutneys, which we sold to raise money for a local charity.
Many of our day excursions involve learning outside, from trips into Bath to explore our Roman links and architecture, visits to local farms, or a bushcraft day in a nearby forest. After each trip, the girls return with beaming smiles and lots to talk about.
The richness of all our Outdoor Learning activities has inspired our girls to produce high-level work and develop beyond expectations. And overall, it is FUN!