Save the School Playground
A recent survey taken by The Times Education Supplement suggests a third of all expanding primary schools will be losing out on much-needed playground areas due to necessary extensions to accommodate for the ever-growing number of pupils.
The survey looked at 957 schools and out of these a massive 335 have claimed to losing large areas of playgrounds and fields due to school expansions. The fact that school’s playgrounds are getting smaller and the number of pupils are increasing means play areas will have to be shared by even more children. Even without the added extensions children will have even less room to enjoy playtime due to the numbers that need to share these areas.
Even though the government has claimed to have tightened rules on building new school structures on top of playing fields the rise in births means many primary schools have had to add temporary classrooms to make room for the surge they have seen in pupil numbers. The Times Education Supplement took their findings from the 957 schools they looked in to and calculated that if this was true for the whole of England then a massive 213,750 pupils would not have enough space in their classrooms.
This is a major issue when it comes to the learning and the development of our children as outdoor activities are an important factor in development and discovery, especially in younger children.
Why Outdoor Activities Are So Important
There are many reasons outdoor play and activities are crucial in the development of our younger generation, much of what we learn outside growing up can be transferred into the classroom and everyday life.
The playground is a place where children can be children, allowing them to express themselves and let off steam. They can run, jump, shout make a mess and learn about general things such as shade, sun, wind, how to make something move faster or slow it down, gravity when going down a slide or jumping.
Allowing children to explore the outdoors by playing and hiding on fields and near trees teaches them about nature and the world we live in. For example, how does mud feel, different kind of leaves, making daisy chains out of flowers helps them recognise individual aspects of a plant and how they grow, all of these things simply can’t be experienced in the same way while sat in a classroom.
In our modern society technology has taken over and when kids leave school they are likely to go home and watch TV or play on their iPads – which is why it is even more important to have good size areas for children to play on at school so they can run around and get away from electronics and iPad games. Not only does playing outside help promote a healthy lifestyle by providing exercise it also allows children to interact with each other in a social environment learning the basic social skills of life. Outdoor games such as catch, hop scotch, what time is it Mr Wolf?, Simon Says and hide and seek, help children learn to play together in a group and follow the rules of the game.
Incorporate Outdoor Play into Lessons
With school playgrounds getting smaller it is even more important to try and incorporate outdoor activities in to your lesson plans so children have more time to explore and learn outside. Here are a selection of lesson ideas that will give you the chance to get outside with your class and allow them to explore, learn and have fun.
A treasure hunt can be used to create excitement out of many lessons and helps develop skills such as coordination, reading maps, directions, using initiative, problem solving as well as taking in the information from the subject you are basing it on. For example, you could plan a treasure hunt for spelling and literacy where the children have to locate different letters and spell the words correctly with them.
Maths is probably one of the lessons least likely to involve outside play so when you get the chance you should take full advantage of heading outside with your class. When learning about angles in geometry take your class outside to explore the real life angles of the playground, this will not only be fun and peak their interests but will also help them to understand angles when they have something to physically look at and examine. For example, set them a task where they have to find as many angles around the school playground as possible, this could include the corner of buildings, benches, trees. climbing frames, walls etc.
There are many ways to use the playground to explore science, one idea is for the lesson of friction. Using a newton meter get the children to first predict what they think the result will be and then using different materials, such as a brick, measure the resistance when pulled on different surfaces of the playground.
Music is an exciting subject but doesn’t often have any place outdoors, why not take your class to explore the sounds and music that can be made from objects around the school grounds. This can be from railings, banging on bins, blowing through grass stems, echos from sheltered areas and anything else the children can find.
Outdoors and nature has often been used in literature as inspiration for stories and poetry so why not take advantage of this in your lessons. Take your class outside and tell them to write down what they see, hear, smell and memories that they are reminded of. They can then use these to add alliteration, rhymes, adjectives and learn about types of poetry methods such as Acrostic and Onomatopoeia.
The increase in pupils causing playgrounds to be reduced is something that needs to addressed and prevented for the future of our pupils, however, we hope this blog has given you some new ideas on how to get your class enjoying the outdoors!
If you are looking for a new challenge in your teaching career visit our website where we have many new teaching job opportunities available for primary and secondary education.