Have you ever stopped to think of the dramas taking place in your setting’s outdoor space? Just like EastEnders or Downton Abbey, there is so much going on, even excluding the children’s dilemmas:
- The ants at the beck and call of their queen
- The lone wasp ready for a fight
- The gossiping sparrows
- The fearful hedgehog.
Every outside classroom is alive with stories just waiting for our children to become part of the drama. Perhaps this is what the eagle teaches us about open-air learning. We talk about people being eagle eyed, having the ability to look closely and notice things that others miss. If we pause in the outdoor spaces of our contexts and look closely we will notice how they invite us and our children to become part of their stories.
Here are some ideas to help you to pause and really look at your outdoor space throughout the seasons:
- Plant some bulbs for the spring
- Crunch handfuls of leaves
- Eat seasonal produce
- Make a mud café and market stall.
- Tell stories round a firepit
- Toast marshmallows
- Make a snow kitchen
- Create some snow angels.
- Admire the flowering bulbs
- Make spring perfume
- Sit in the sunshine
- Go on a bug hunt (These might help: Play and Explore Bugs).
- Listen to the birdsong
- Make and share a salad
- Observe ice melting
- Cook mud pies in the sunshine.
What can the hippo teach us about our outdoor classrooms? The hippo loves nothing better than to wallow. It loves to do so in mud and throws itself into it with joy! If you want some ideas for how to wallow in the fun of mud, try Mud Kitchens and Beyond.
As we look at our outdoor spaces may we be inspired by the eagle and the hippopotamus to see them afresh and wallow in what they offer. As the writer Marcel Proust said, ‘The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.’