Green Care for Children and Young People
This current period is a golden opportunity to develop ‘outdoor’ learning programmes for children. So often, when children are in school, their time outdoors is constrained by the school timetable and the perception that ‘real learning’ takes place inside a classroom. Now, they are positively encouraged to spend time outside, with their parents, and to go on foot or on a bike rather than being driven to an activity. What better time to develop their interests and build knowledge of their local environment!
Every child in Manchester lives within a short walk of a green space. To find the nearest park or green space, go to the neighbourhood information on the Manchester Council website, put in your school postcode, and filter on the link for ‘parks and open spaces’. You will see a map with all parks marked. Beneath the map are the names of the parks/open spaces, exact location and other information such as opening times. Manchester parks are open from dawn until dusk, so this is a free open air classroom, available to every family!
Some great ideas for the great outdoors
Outdoor learning can be really effective because it encourages curiosity, fosters motivation and is accessible to all children regardless of their attainments in reading, writing or maths.
Stimulating an interest in nature, in trees and in birds can develop into a lifelong hobby. Now that would be a positive outcome from the COVID19 lockdown!
Try these ideas from the Field Studies Council who have a special page with ideas for children at home and daily updates for outdoor learning on their twitter feed @NatureFSchools:
Maps: create a sound map (you can do this in a park, garden, or even through a (safe) open window. Download the activity sheet here.
Mapping your local area could provide a number of ‘spin off’ projects – map the route from your house to the park, map your route to school (how much can you do from memory), visit the park then draw a map of it when you get home
Outdoor Scavenger Hunt. The activity sheet here provides a list of things children could collect, and you can obviously produce your own lists.
Make a weather diary. The activity sheet here provides some ideas, including how to make a simple rain gauge. I also love the idea for ‘Sky TV’: just lie down outside and watch the clouds!
The RSPB website also has a number of outdoor learning ideas for children here, although the RSPB app is easier to navigate. The app allows you to filter for a number of different projects, graded from easy, and variable depending on how much time you have.