The Muddy Puddle Teacher

6 ways to take your learning outside

6 ways to take your learning outside

6 ways to take your learning outside


Outdoor learning has never been so needed!  With increased referrals for children with SEMH and with the new 2022 Ofsted framework gaining an area of focus on personal development. Educators are searching for teaching methods that are linked to the curriculum but help support children’s physical and mental health without any extra work! I am here to tell you that Outdoor learning does just that!


Here are 6 top muddy ways you can start your outdoor learning journey now!


  1. Teach using only natural and upcycled materials. 


The Muddy Puddle Teacher Approach not only focuses on outdoor learning we also help you reduce your carbon footprint.  We encourage our educators to use only natural and upcycled materials, giving the Sustainability White Paper 2022 a big tick too. By using natural resources we are using fewer plastics, paper, glue sticks and whiteboard marker pens. We use natural resources, in particular, for holistic reasons. The children gain mental and physical health benefits from the happy hormones nature gives them and the healthy bacteria the lovely mud brings along with it. Whatmore there are lots of sensory benefits from touching the many different textures in nature and this can better support neurodiverse children accessing the curriculum. As well as those children who lack concentration levels while indoors or struggle to sit for periods of time. Furthermore, using what’s out there is free! Nothing more to buy! If that was not enough to convince you to use more natural resources to teach, this will. It can all be left outside, with nothing to prep or put away. Use it then leave it there. Making outdoor learning also easily managed and possible in all weathers.


2. Make an Outdoor Wardrobe

Something us Muddy Teachers do very little of is buying!  Get creative and re-think the way you can get by and look after the planet that little bit more. To make your outdoor wardrobe you first need to gather six tyres from the local mechanics, it’s free and you’re saving the planet by reusing these which are incredibly toxic to destroy. Then fill them with natural items you will use to teach with.  Be seasonal so in autumn fill in with conkers, acorns, shades of fallen leaves, and sticks (bamboo sticks are especially useful to use because there equal in length and straight). These are now your outdoor resources.  Just as you may have inside a wardrobe with deans apparatus, rulers and containers. 


3. Ban indoor items from going outside 

At the start this one is difficult. You may be used to your indoor apparatus such as a whiteboard, or a workbook but for you to achieve lessons that are benefited from being outside you need to ditch these.  I have been there, got the t-shirt and by taking apparatus designed to be used inside, and outside. They will get damaged and make life a lot harder for yourself as they will be tidied up, washed and cleaned. Making you less reluctant to go outside again. 


Furthermore, if anyone was to observe your outdoor lesson, the first thing that will come to their mind is why this lesson benefited the child/learning by being outside that could not have been achieved inside.  Using indoor apparatus is not always but normally is preventing you from achieving that.  Clipboards and pens, taking whiteboards to teach from will encourage stationary children and heads down.  We want children moving and heads up!.  One way to achieve this is by following The Three Muddy M’s:


  1. Mother Nature – Use Natural items where possible.  This allows for sensory development to occur but also for children to get hands-on with nature, connect with it and respect it.  It also is a great way of being more sustainable, getting creative and become original thinkers.  Essentially making something out of nothing is great for nurturing free-range thinkers. 
  2. Mental Health – When we teach outside we allow kids to be age appropriate and to teach the curriculum differently.  With lots of free, child-led play, time to be silly, be loud, move, talk and play games and connect with others.
  3. More Kid Moving – inside is for sitting.  Outside is for moving.  Encourage lots of big gross motor movements, activity, running and doing all of those physical movements you can not do for safety reasons inside.   


4.Start with Science and Understanding of the World

There is plenty of outdoor learning opportunities in both the EYFS and NC for outdoor learning but if you are new to this you need to start with Science first.  Many areas give you opportunities to take the children outside and be hands-on with their learning. This is vital for the children that are practical and visual learners but also for those children that like to move and explore. Areas such as Habitats, Animals including Humans, Plants, and Materials all can be explored and gain greater depth than taught outside first. 


5. Not all lessons have to be 100% outside

You do not have to take full lessons outside.  There are no rules. Try the inside, outside approach and maybe take intros outside with main activities outside.  When I train whole schools we always advise KS2 to look for intros and plenaries to be inside while main activities can often gain a greater depth of understanding by taking it outside where our senses are alive and learning experiences become memories. In particular, repeated learning such as timetables, and number bonds can be explored in more fun ways such as outdoor board games or creating counting ladders from sticks. 


6. Go out in all weather

In all the years I have been a teacher and balanced the indoors with outdoor learning in any weather, no matter what, I have had only one time I brought my class back in.  It was on a dangerously windy day, very rarely does the rain come non-stop for long periods of time.  As long as the children are dressed appropriately, you can do this! Plus if you’re using only natural or upcycled resources it will not matter if it has rained, nothing will ruin and it’s all usable and waterproof. 



By Sarah Seaman


CEO The Muddy Puddle Teacher Ltd

Author: The playful way to create an Outdoor Eary Years Curriculum  

Article was written for Teachco

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