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Cultivating An Inspirational Outdoor Learning Environment

No matter how engaging the lesson is, after a while, a classroom might feel a little oppressive and boredom-inducing. Freshening up the space with a renovation or a new coat of paint is one option, but in this post, we’re seeking to inspire educators to go the extra mile and design a bespoke outdoor learning environment.

Such spaces can inspire creativity, reduce boredom and make the learning space a much more pleasant place to learn.

Create an inspiring area

Whatever you’re teaching, an area where your students can get creative and brainstorm new ideas is always a high-quality option. An overhead canopy of greenery can help learners escape the classroom and enter another world – something that could be of great use for English teachers who want their students to fully imagine another world like the islands from Lord of the Flies or The Tempest.

Such a space, when not in use, can also be a quiet, al-fresco study space for students looking for a little bit of fresh air while revising for finals. Even the most workaday campus can be transformed with a little greenery that serves a purpose as well as looking great.

Let little ones interact with nature

It’s a lamentable fact that a lot of young children don’t have as much of a relationship with the natural world as previous generations. Whether you blame the advent of the smartphone or not, it’s hard to argue against allowing for more time for the younger generations to commune with nature.

A small garden at the rear of an elementary school classroom, with plenty of insects and various types of greenery, could open up some little minds to the wonders of the natural world – and all you really need is a few raised planter boxes and a few small plants to populate them. For a further insight into the world of the undergrowth, consider adding a glass viewing panel so kids can learn about plant roots and even watch earthworms in their natural habitat.

Create a natural amphitheatre

Digging and landscaping a green amphitheatre for the performance of plays and musicals will add a fun element to an annual drama performance – at a substantially lower price point compared to building an auditorium. Drama in the open air during warm summer nights is an attractive prospect, especially if you have a comfortable grass bank for your audience to sit on.

Of course, you can also use such a space for daytime lectures on summer days, if the lecture theatre is too hot and stuffy for learning to be as effective as you’d like.

Adapting to different learning styles

Learning in fresh air is very beneficial for children’s wellbeing, and could even encourage them to develop a relationship with the natural environment. Learning in the outdoors is effective for assisting fine-motor development through offering the experience of new sounds, textures and smells.

It’s estimated that 1 in 7 people in the UK are neurodivergent, meaning that they learn and process information differently to those who are considered neurotypical. Learning in the outdoors is a great way to create an inclusive learning environment that adapts to different learning styles. From developing inquisitive thinking to teaching resilience, learning in the outdoors could lead to greater success for those who may not thrive in a traditional classroom environment.

Curate a ‘transterior’ space

Of course, making an inspirational, escapist outdoor learning environment should also place utility and usability at the forefront of the design.

To achieve this, you might want to create a ‘transterior’ classroom – one that blends the indoor and outdoor. For example, a leafy courtyard bordered on one side with a small room for the placement of storage lockers is the ideal environment for small group study – as it combines privacy with utility.

Whatever kind of educational establishment you’re running, cultivating an outdoor learning environment should definitely be considered, especially for students that don’t normally stray outside the classroom. Just add a dash of your own creativity to the mix and you’ll be well on your way to a high-class learning experience for your students.

Tom Brialey is the Founder and Director of Action Lockers, which adopts his philosophy that, in addition to the highest quality products, you must also provide the highest standard of service to your customers in order to succeed. That’s why it’s Tom’s mission to provide expert support 100% of the way.

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