Getting Kids Active And Outside!

I love the outside. I’m one of those strange people that actually picks cold, wet days to go for long walks (you see less people!). I reckon getting the kids outside is beneficial too.

I’m fortunate to teach in a tiny school, in a great setting, where we’re not required to book the playground space or hall space – if we want it, we’re pretty much guaranteed to be able to have it without having to organise it with the other classes. I try to make full use of this… Even when it’s cold or wet.

Why? Well, partly because it breaks up the morning. We have assemblies most mornings, first thing, so a quick game of something outside is a good way to let steam off before we get back inside and open up our books.

More importantly though, I also think the kids learn better when they’re not in a familiar setting; there seems to be a kind of feeling of wonder: “why are we outside? What are we doing? I thought you said it was literacy now!” It’s really great to see 99% of the class confused and eager to find out what we’re doing. When they’re engaged, they learn better. We all know that.

Recently, I’ve taken to reinventing some of the classic multi-skills games into maths and English games. The game ‘Compass’, where children run to north, south, east or west, has become a SPaG practice game where I shout a word and the children decide which word class it is (adjective, verb, noun or adverb). Another great one involves putting a box of differentiated mental maths questions (certain people can only pick certain colours) in the middle of four groups and getting each team to send a person, answer a question and return to the group to send the next person. The kids love it.

There’s also times when the outside isn’t just a fun alternative to the classroom but it’s also absolutely required. Teaching air resistance and giving the class a huge sheet of card to hold and run around with makes it far more real than sitting and talking about it in the class. Going on a minibeast hunt and classifying what we find into vertebrates and invertebrates makes it far more real than looking at pictures of the animals.

I was going to stop writing here. I love the outside and I think all the children need some time out there learning. I haven’t stopped writing, though, because I’m remembering some of the children, some that I’ll never fully understand, who prefer to be inside learning. The 1% that weren’t fully in awe of being in the playground instead of their seat. The classroom is, obviously, the key area of the school, and we need to use it in that role. There’s a fine line between using the outside to enhance learning and using it for the sake of it and we’d be poor teachers if we used it so often that the 1% increased and more children lost interest with being outside.

This is the same for anything we use; textbooks, interactive whiteboards, laptops, colouring pencils, hot-seating…

0 thoughts on “Getting Kids Active And Outside!

  1. I’ve been trying to think of some ways to take English and maths outside more often and your adapted games are a maybe in need of a cheeky steal. Wish I could be more adventurous and go outside more often for learning, but to be quite honest – I have no idea where to start!

    1. Go for it! Let me know how you get on with them. I’m always on the look out for ways to improve anything I’m doing. And if you find anything else I’d love to hear it. I’m following your blog too 🙂

      When the weather was dry at the beginning of the year we got outside and do a lot of work with measurements on the playground (metre sticks and chalk). You can then get on to perimeter and area with this too. The fact that you can draw huge shapes and 100% accuracy isn’t necessarily a big deal makes it much more accessible.

      Multiplication practice throwing a ball around a circle is also something we do a lot. It works more or less like hot potato except that each time you catch the ball you also say the next number in the multiplication sequence. The more able in my class have got on to being able to whizz through all the multiplication sequences from 2-12 and then make up their own word problems whilst playing this game. Sometimes I join in just to practice my own mental arithmetic :/

      The mental maths magpie is all typed up and ready for download here: http://www.tes.co.uk/teaching-resource/Mental-Maths-Magpie-6393982/ If you need to change any of the questions (this is KS2) then I recommend grabbing the ‘pitch and expectation’ documents and doing a search through them (ctrl+f) for the word ‘mental’. Then it’s just a case of copy and paste 🙂

      Oh and obstacle courses worked really well for a maths/English cross-over lesson. We were looking at instructions and the kids partnered up and took it in turns to direct each other around the course. Managed to get some key words to do with direction and angles in there too.

      Hope that gives you some more ideas. Don’t worry about it too much; sometimes it’s worth just doing ‘normal’ stuff outside. 😀

      1. this is amazing! thank you – lots to get me thinking about. We’re doing area/ perimeter this term so definitely will get them outside – must check noone is going to be annoyed if i use chalk on the playground!

        haha yes but i’m not sure I’d even know how to do ‘normal’ stuff outside! I’d love to take them out more now its nicer, and think my bottom Lit group would definitely benifit (as they’re killing me and I can get nothing out of them!) but it’s where to start and what to do!

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