Outdoor Learning

The best classroom and the richest classroom is roofed only by the sky. 

Margaret McMillan

The Great Outdoors

We are extremely proud of the extensive grounds we have at Clapgate. 

Take a look at this fantastic newspaper article about all the brilliant outdoor opportunities we offer at Clapgate.

https://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/education/pedro-and-pablo-go-top-of-the-class-at-clapgate-primary-as-school-goats-help-pupils-after-lockdown-3273808?fbclid=IwAR1EV24tbhrJOXQhVK1Qq5GF-MyX-pPt_VBy1Fv8XAm3U5oX1U4OX5OCfsA

Our grounds provide our children with plenty of space to run around at playtime and lunchtime, promoting exercise and a healthy lifestyle. Each Key Stage has their own playground which is equipped with trim trails and playground markings to keep children active.

We understand the importance of being outside and the positive effect it has on our mental health and wellbeing. We see our outdoor area as an extension of our classrooms and this provides our children with a wealth of learning opportunities such as exploring, experimenting, problem-solving and negotiating risk – which we know allows our students to become well-rounded individuals. Whether rain or shine, our children are encouraged to be outdoors, which is why we have provided enough waterproofs and wellies to ensure that outdoor lessons go ahead whatever the weather.

Our newly developed outdoor area includes an allotment with raised beds for each class to grow fruit and vegetables, a wooded area which provides opportunities for den building and investigating minibeasts, a seated area around a fire pit for reading stories, toasting marshmallows and learning important life skills and reading huts for children to enjoy story time sessions in the great outdoors.

We also have a range of animals at Clapgate, including our six chickens. The children look after them and feed them each day, collecting their fresh eggs and letting them out to explore the grounds. We are extremely lucky to have two Pygmy Goats, named Pablo and Pedro. They are part of our school family and we have employed goat keepers, who take responsibility for looking after them, feeding them and cleaning them out. Every lunch time our goats go for a walk around the school grounds. This is one of the best times of day at Clapgate, seeing the children and animals interact so positively. We also have two gorgeous guinea pigs called Marshmallow and Cookie. They live in Foundation Stage and the children love stroking them, feeding them and giving them the care and love they need.

We have just finished one of our new projects. Our school gardener, Debbie, has recently finished our school pound. This space is designed for our children to have a go at pond dipping and we are hoping to gather some tadpoles so the children can explore the life cycle of a frog. We are also in the process of creating an outdoor reading trail with colour coded destinations marked on a map for pupils to read in different areas of the outdoor space.

We value outdoor learning highly at Clapgate and try to offer as many opportunities as possible for our children to take their learning outdoors as much as possible.

 

Our Pupil’s Voice

This is what our pupils say about our outdoor learning at Clapgate:

“I love being outside in the allotment because we can grow our own plants and think about healthy recipes to cook with our produce.” – Year 5 Pupil.

 

“Now we have an outdoor classroom and campfire area, we have exciting places to listen to stories or create our own. Being outside makes me feel happy and it helps me use my imagination with freedom.” – Year 4 pupil.

Meet Pablo and Pedro!

We would like you to meet our school goats Pedro and Pablo!

We picked up our Pygmy Goats from a Goat Farm in Harrogate. We asked all the children for ideas and have decided to name the white one Pablo (suggestion from Reception) and the brown one Pedro (suggestion from 4EB). Looking after the goats is part of the school routine. Each class takes their turn for a week to take on responsibility for caring for them. This encourages all our children to learn about caring for animals and the responsibility that goes with it.
 
Miss Holmes will be running an animal care club after school on Wednesday nights, where the children will learn more about caring for the goats, including feeding, brushing and cleaning them and teaching them new tricks.
 
 
 

The Reading Trail

We will be launching an outdoor reading trail which will include:

  • The Reading Hut – this area will be based on ‘The Journey’ by Aaron Becker
  • The Wild Woodland Area – this area will be based on ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ by Michael Rosen
  • The Reading Tipis – this cosy area will be based on ‘Peter Pan and the Lost Boys’ by J M Barry
  • The Pond Area – ‘The Enormous Crocodile’ by Roald Dahl
  • The Chicken Coop – ‘What the Ladybird Heard’ by Julia Donaldson
  • The Allotment and Orchard Area – ‘The Gruffalo’ by Julia Donaldson
  • The Woodland Area leading to the Campfire – ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ by Maurice Sendak
  • The Campfire – ‘Into the Forest’ by Anthony Browne
  • The Key Stage Two Reading Den – ‘The Word Collector’ by Peter H Reynolds
  • The Key Stage One Outdoor Classroom – ‘Stuck’ by Oliver Jeffers

The Reading Hut

Brand new this year is the beautifully designed reading hut which has:

  • Murals designed and painted by our pupils.
  • Storage seating for pupils to be able to easily access books whilst sitting on comfortable seating.
  • Large weatherproof beanbags and cushions for pupils to sit on.
  • Foilage decorating the hut to bring the great outdoors in.
  • A timetable to ensure that all children can spend time reading in the hut.
  • Books carefully selected to promote spoken language and explicitly linking to the EYFS Framework and the National Curriculum.

The Wild Woodland Area

Within our school grounds we have a woodland area that is designed for:

  • Identifying and classifying wildlife such as birds and minibeasts.
  • Identifying and classifying what type of habitats different creatures have.
  • Identifying and making comparisons between the conditions different minibeasts live in.
  • Exploring different trees and plants, the shape, colour and size of the leaves to make comparisons with.
  • Creating our own dens.

Meet Our Chickens!

We have raised our chickens from their incubation period! 

Our pupils in our Foundation Stage observed the eggs as they began to move and as the chicks began to peck their way out of their shells! They observed the chicks hatch fully out of their shells and drew pictures of how they were growing and changing each week. The children enjoyed talking about the changes they had observed and could talk about how chicks need looking after.

Once the chicks had grown we transferred them into their chicken coop and they love to jump up onto their hen houses to look at us!  The chickens are cared for by all of the pupils in school, following a rota system and can roam the fields across our outdoor space. The children collect the eggs that have been laid each day, help to clean the coop and feed them.

The Allotment Area

Our allotment area consists of:

 

  • A planting bed for each class to tend to, sewing their own seeds and planting their own bulbs.
  • A composting area for the children to learn about decomposing material and how to be efficient with our waste.
  • A gardening shed full of equipment for the children to use during their outdoor learning sessions.
  • Recently planted trees to create an orchard.
  • Bird feeders to educate our pupils about caring for our wildlife.

The Campfire Area

Throughout school, all of our pupils visit the campfire to:

  • Learn how to build a fire.
  • Find out what we need to create a fire.
  • Experience sitting around a campfire and sing songs, listen to stories and toast marshmallows!
  • Talk about experiences in the great outdoors, camping trips that our children may have been on, excursions and days out that have involved being in the wild.

The Solar Dome

We have recently had our new Solar Dome installed and the children are extremely excited to start lessons inside!

The PTA have worked hard alongside Miss Taylor to raise funds for the Solar Dome. This is an innovative new indoor space, outside. We have hosted a range of events, including a Christmas Extravaganza and Halloween Disco to raise money and have also looked to local nature grants to support our project. 

The Solar Dome is now installed and ready for lessons. Each term our Subject Leaders will be taking ownership of the space, theming it around a particular subject and ensuring it is a space where new skills can be learnt. First up is a scientific space, where children can develop their thinking scientifically skills and have a go at a range on enquiries inside.

The Solar Dome is also a fantastic space for circle time, story time and music lessons and we can’t wait to hear what the children have to say about it.