The Garden Classroom, by Cathy James, is an inspirational book for kids – and details some great ideas for learning outside. If you’d like to use your outdoor space as a ‘living classroom’, here’s some tips to get you started.
Learning doesn’t have to take place inside. Yet regrettably, it’s often the case that our children are cooped up in classrooms, when they could be immersed in nature and learning valuable lessons about the world around them.
The Garden Classroom, by Cathy James, is all about learning whilst outside; and contains some inspirational ideas. Read on to discover more about the book, and how you can extend your child’s learning into the natural world.
Why Outdoor Learning?
According to research, learning outside is beneficial in five key ways. It helps to:
- Improve personal and social communication skills
- Boost physical health
- Enhance mental and spiritual health
- Improve sensory and aesthetic awareness
- Help assert personal control and increased sensitivity to personal well-being
In short, being outdoors is wonderful on many levels. This is especially the case in the 21st century, when children are constantly surrounded by electronic contraptions – televisions, computer games, tablets and smartphones. Getting your child away from the temptations of technology and into the open is beneficial on a number of levels.
Enjoyable Ideas For Your Garden Classroom
“Anything you can teach in an indoor classroom can be taught outdoors, often in ways that are more enjoyable for children.” – Cathy James
There are so many lessons that can be learnt from plants, gardens and outdoor spaces. You don’t necessarily need to have a huge backyard, even a small outdoor area can be used as an outdoor classroom – or alternatively, you can visit your local park instead. Here are some innovative ways you can create an outdoor learning experience for your child.
- Create a Kitchen Garden – You already know, plants aren’t just nice to look at, they’re delicious to eat too! If you’ve got the space, create a ‘kitchen garden’, where your child can prepare the soil, plant seeds and nurture them as they grow. A mini-greenhouse is also a great idea – and if you haven’t got any soil, invest in a large bucket or planter. Being able to grow food from scratch provides a powerful lesson into the life cycle of plants, and teaches children about where food comes from.
- Create a New World – Children are endlessly imaginative beings, and love to come up with new worlds to play in. An old blanket draped between two chairs makes a good den. A few rocks and leaves piled up makes a mini landscape for your child’s toys. A rug on the lawn is an ideal area for a teddy bear’s picnic. It’s the perfect opportunity to let your child explore and experiment with the environment around them.
- Get Writing – Master writing skills outdoors by letting your child use a wall as a chalkboard (don’t worry – chalk disappears when it rains!). Gather some stones and let your child paint letters or images on them to use as story stones. This helps develop motor skills and unleashes their imagination. We particularly liked Cathy James’ idea of creating a little fairy mailbox!
- Be Experimental –There are plenty of experiments your child can undertake in nature. They can create leaf collages, use twigs to build mini-houses (and test which designs don’t fall down) and even create natural dyes from plants. And of course, growing seeds lets your child discover how to care for plants, through trial and error.
- Harvest…and Cook – Once your edible plants have grown, let your child harvest them and use them in your cooking. Your child will get a real sense of achievement as they watch their carrots, potatoes and herbs being used in a meal that they can eat!
- Creativity and Art – In the garden, your child can make patterns using stones, leaves and twigs. They can draw in the soil or create a painting inspired by their natural surroundings. By gathering natural materials and dipping them in paint, they can also experiment with texture and color.
Outdoor Learning With Kiddit
Children thrive when they’re outside in the fresh air. If you’d like to encourage your child to get off the sofa and into the garden, it’s important to get the right equipment to entice them. Kiddit have a range of fun outdoor toys, with an emphasis on promoting physical and mental wellbeing, and extending their learning. You can browse our range of outdoor toys here at Kiddit.