Getting our kids outdoors

Outdoor Classroom Day Case Study: Clearview Early Learning and Kindergarten

Tell us about your centre.

We are a semi-rural long daycare centre and kindergarten based in Nerang. We are a recognised Nature Play educational provider and deliver an emergent curriculum with relevant intentional teaching based on children’s interests. We allow children ample opportunities to engage in unstructured play outdoors using natural resources.

What type of outdoor play and learning currently happens at your centre?

Currently, we have an off-site bush kindy program for 2-5 year olds five days a week. Each age group has their own bush kindy session with a combined age group session one day a week. The children help to care for our animals, currently doves, worms and guinea pigs. At various times, children have been involved in the care of our farm chickens, ducks, pigs and goats. Children help with gardening and learn about flora with a strong emphasis on native plants. We have loose parts for children to create their own play spaces and challenging play, and during the winter months, we often sit around the campfire cooking and discussing different topics.

Can you describe your understanding of Outdoor Classroom Day (OCDay) and why your centre is supporting it?

Outdoor Classroom Day is an opportunity for children to learn in nature using natural resources to enhance their learning. We support OCDay as nature play and learning are embedded in our service and the philosophy that underlines our curriculum.

These photos show children learning about Indigenous cultures and understanding how they use natural resources in their day to day lives, such as the Macaranga leaf that is used as a cup to hold water. In one photo the children are building a dam, which gives them a visual and kinesthetic understanding of how to pool water that is flowing. This incorporates problem-solving and engineering skills to enable the success of the dam. Sticks can be used to make letters and pencils to enhance literacy development. Shelters are built, enabling children to work together to achieve the task they set out to do. They learn how to problem solve – where to place the shelter, tie knots and find ways of getting maximum shelter from the resources on hand. Children enjoy listening to stories outside, and they listen more attentively outside.

What are some of the topics and learning exercises you shared with your students on OCDay?

1. Using sticks to write letters and names

2. Children risk assessing

3. STEM practices

4. Environmental awareness and sustainability practices

5. Understanding our local ecosystems and how to protect them

6. Indigenous cultures and practices

7. Fire safety and drills

How often do you take your students outside for learning?

We take our kids to an offsite bush kindy session five days a week. We have also incorporated nature play as a daily/continual activity.

What are some of the benefits you have found by bringing children outdoors for learning?  In particular, what are the changes to their:

Learning: Questioning and investigative techniques; engagement in topics; fewer distractions; directing their own learning.

Behaviour/personality: Children are calm, engage in less conflict, children resolve their own issues, show better teamwork, resilience, leadership skills, and empathy towards others.

Participation in teamwork: All of these skills are enhanced when children are supported to direct their own learning.

Anything else you’d like to add: Enhanced understanding of STEM practices, building positive relationships with peers and educators, enhanced social, emotional,  fine motor and gross motor development.