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Welcome to Outdoor School

This is the post excerpt.

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This outdoor learning blog has been created for you, whether you are a pupil, parent, governor, teacher, or member of the local community interested to join in and share your thoughts, ideas, and responses to the wonderful learning happening at  Therfield First School . This summer term we are introducing outdoor learning across the key stages, not as an ‘add-on’ to the curriculum, but as learning that starts from real-life experiences and situations that require meaningful responses that develop into cross-curricular learning.

Our aims include:

  • Deepening children’s knowledge and understanding of how the natural environment, and in particular, how plant life contributes to human life
  • Connecting children to their local area to inspire authentic learning experiences and responses to the environment about them
  • Providing opportunity for all to inform the curriculum content and environment outside the classroom
  • Becoming skilful and reflective in problem solving, developing key countryside citizenship skills
  • Developing further our knowledge of teaching and learning with the environment, further defining our role as educators in the outdoors.

In achieving these aims, we are fortunate to have on our doorstep Greys Farm, home to 500 acres of meadow, and listed as a charity called redlist revival, which is committed to ensuring the survival of ‘red listed’ species identified by the UK Government.  We share in the ideal that children and their educators should become informed of approaches to outdoor school that sustain active community involvement, and approaches to living, benefitting the local natural environment, and improving our attitudes towards the world we live in.

The views that are expressed in this blog are those of individuals, and myself as a teacher at Therfield First School, and in no way express the views of my employer.

You are all welcome to engage in this summer term’s learning journey of discovery.

Alixandra Marschani

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View of part of a meadow – March 2017
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Scope for learning – April 2017

Nature Words Demo

A selection of the posters – a jail themed emerged.

Therfield First School marched past the village pub where people waved us on, and then  across the green as we shouted ‘Bring back our WORDS!’

It was a peaceful demonstration and a first opportunity for many to exercise their democratic right to express opinions about an important cause.

Thank you to the many parents who joined in and supported the demo.

Prep for Nature Words Demo

Duckpuddle created a nature wall outdoors – as we roamed for the Lost Words we added nature items and picture to the wall. Others explored the spellings and meanings of the 100 words which were later developed into demo posters.

Rooksnests worked on a splendid display of the The Lost Words which read ‘Free the words – Let them Fly’ and included nature collage portraits of the class.

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An opportunity to play with those Lost Words which were kept behind police tape!

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Honeypot children painted big pictures of those Lost Words.

A lot of discussion was had by all the classes and many more activities occured throughtout the Re-Wilding Nature Words Week. Importantly, while we recognise that new words must enter the dictionary, we disagree that these new words (which include celebrity, chatroom, and creep) should be included at the expense of common nature words. We need nature words because we USE them and can recognise these items outdoors.

As educators we believe that the natural world offers more to young children in terms of learning and well-being than any virtual world can ever offer. If children are not using these nature words then it is our responsibility to include these in their everyday activities – because we cannot love and care for a world that is ignored particulary in the knowledge that we live in a time of a rapidly changing ecological landscape that will affect our lives. Being a countryside citizen means we take responsibility for our actions and we know that we can make small changes that affect our natural world positively.

Lost and Found

 

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Did you know that ‘poppy’ is a DELETED nature word from the Oxford Junior Dictionary? Exploring our school field in the space of five minutes we found a POPPY in BLOOM not far from a WILLOW next to a HOLLY bush. Four words all DELETED! The photo above was taken by children who spotted it on the edge of our field.

‘But they exist!’ we all chanted.

‘And we have a GOLDFISH indoors!’ added someone else.

You can’t DELETE what exists and you can’t ignore that we love these words because they are as much part of our landscape as we are. A nature hunt started our search for the DELETED words both Lost and Found.

 

 

Those spring bulbs

The final gardening club met last Friday to plant the selection of bulbs purchased through the sale of bird cakes. We cleared the weeds from the pots in the main playground and added tulips (in a variety of colours) and daffodils, and finally potted hyacinths – one for each member of the club to take home and enjoy as it grows over the next few months.

Well done gardeners! Your work has been useful, informative, and fun.

The Lost Words

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To start our Re-Wilding Words week at Therfield First School, feel inspired by the art work of Jackie Morris. Her beautiful art work is inspired by the LOST nature words and will be exhibiting at Compton Verney Art Gallery and Park in Warwickshire from October 21st. If you have never been there before  – it is a wonderful child friendly stately home of a gallery filled with fun things for children to do. It is one of my favourite places. The exhibition coincides with a publication of her work into a coffee table book.

“I want The Lost Words to delight the mind and the eye and send children to sleep dreaming of wild things.” Jackie Morris

 

 

A question of a pot

Something I notice about being outdoors is that everyone appears to be doing something that involves some sort of investigation or inquiry. Maybe we are making sense of what we see, feel, smell and touch? Or are we just overcome by a moment of freedom both mentally and physically? These are not questions I ask Rooks nest class – I just observe the responses and note how this is their time for learning that involves both the physical and the emotional grounded in real experience.

We know that things can’t always go to plan. Our investigation into making pigments from natural items showed us just how hard it must have been to extract colour for art in the Stone Age. Yesterday, we made clay pots following the instructions written by experts from the Museum of London. Again, we were surprised by the need for a lot of attention to mould the shape, create the centre hole and the pinch technique for the rim. Did the Stone Age people really make these pots so successfully? How can a stone shape the inside of the pot so it is a round one? Just some of our questions. The most interesting comment concerned the decoration: And why did they just not paint these? Seems a reasonable question given that the cave paintings were very beautiful and detailed. We followed the museum’s advice and used stones and natural objects found in our field such as sycamore seeds, feathers, twigs and so on to score the sides of our clay pots. One person created an impression using a leaf on the clay.  We did not find out why these pots were not painted. The Greeks and Romans did paint terracotta pots – but the Stone Age person clearly had a different idea – probably functionality? A useful discussion that helped us to look closer at our natural world and certainly created scope for a lot of relevant historical questioning.