Welcome to our Outdoor Play And Learning page
We began our OPAL (Outdoor Play and Learning) journey in September 2017. We are currently working towards our first OPAL award. So far we have;
- Created an outdoor classroom to promote learning in our outdoor environment
- Equipped children with a range of open ended resources to explore during playtimes. This includes tyres,planks,cable reels and a tunnel.
- Provided training for all staff including lunchtime supervisors
- Encouraged children to wear appropriate clothing so that they may access the outdoors whatever the weather.
Forest Schools at Butterknowle Primary School
The idea of Forest Schools came from Scandinavia, where outdoor living is part of everyday life. The Scandinavian people believe that nature and movement are the key factors in development, and the children there spend at least one day a week outside, in all weathers. They are engaged in learning activities, harnessing the skills that involve respecting the environment whilst looking after themselves and others around them.
The Forest School initiative was born in the UK after a visit & study to Denmark in the 1990’s, by the Nursery Nursing Department at Bridgwater College, and is becoming an increasingly popular way of learning in an outdoor classroom.
At Butterknowle School, we are very fortunate to have a safe and accessible forest area within our own grounds and this will be used as our base for learning. An important part of Forest Schools is that children experience the outdoor environment in all weathers – with the exception of very high winds or thunder storms. Activities are very much child initiated & led, and using the main curriculum, activities will be tailored to the age and ability. With traditional boundaries removed, the children are encouraged to set their own boundaries and be responsible for each other and their surroundings.
Forest Schools activities will teach children about:
- caring for, managing & understanding the woodland environment
- using different hand tools, starting with potato peelers
- creating a ‘camp’ fire and the associated safety aspects
- building a shelter using the materials we have available in the wood as well tarpaulins
- using a a Kelly Kettle to provide us with a warm drink
Forest School Aims:
- Promote self worth, esteem & independence
- Instil a sense of pride and an ‘I can’ attitude
- Encourage team work
- Develop vital communication & social skills
- Create a positive experience
Different children will get different things from the Forest School sessions, what is very clear though, is that there is no doubt that all children do benefit from taking part.
The information provided here is by no means exhaustive, and further information will be sent home or posted here in due course. In the meantime, however, please do not hestiate in contacting school should you have any questions, and if we don’t know the answer immediately, we will find out!