Outdoor Learning

The Great Outdoors

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

Our grounds provide our children with plenty 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 a reading hut for children to enjoy story time sessions in the great outdoors, a chicken coop for the children to look after our school hens and collect their fresh eggs and an outdoor classroom for children to experience learning in the outdoor space.  We have recently planted saplings in our orchard which will provide areas where children can relax and socialise.

We are currently in the process of developing our outdoor area further; we will be having a pond to encourage our children to explore and become excited about nature, a sheltered reading area for key stage two pupils, pygmy goats to add to our collection of animals, a reading trail with colour coded destinations marked on a map for pupils to read in different areas of the outdoor space, reading tipis, a redesigned key stage one playground and outdoor classroom for our younger pupils.

We are very excited to establish our new academic year Outdoor Learning Council which is a student led committee. The Outdoor Learning Council meet regularly and take on the responsibility of looking after the outdoor area to ensure that it is inviting for all.

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.

Our New Arrivals!

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

We have recently 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 will become part of the school routine. Each class will take it in turns for a week to take on the responsibility of caring for them. This will encourage all our children to learn about caring for animals and the responsibility that goes with it.
 
Miss Taylor will be running an animal care club after school on Tuesday nights, where the children will learn more about caring for the goats, including feeding, brushing and cleaning them out. We will also be advertising for Goat Keepers to be responsible for overseeing their care. The children will complete an application form to apply for these roles.

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.
  • To find out what we need to create a fire.
  • To experience sitting around a campfire and sing songs, listen to stories and toast marshmallows!
  • To talk about our experience of the great outdoors, camping trips that our children may have been on, excursions and days out that have involved being in the wild.

What is next for us at Clapgate?

The following areas are currently under construction:

  • The pond area
  • The Key Stage Two reading den
  • Our new Outdoor Learning Council meeting
  • The launch of our Reading Trail 
  • Welcoming our new guinea pigs to school!

Playtimes at Clapgate

We have lots of equipment within our school grounds to make playtimes fun:
  • Tyres for Key Stage One children to climb over, step across, jump from tyre to tyre and sit in!
  • A wooden obstacle course of climbing equipment situated next to the tyre area
  • Climbing equipment for Key Stage Two children to refine their gross motor skills
  • Basketball hoops
  • Football nets
  • Balance bikes for all key stages including Foundation Stage