blog year 6 jacki

Differentiation by Muddy Teacher Jacki

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It was a sunny Sunday morning during the Lockdown period in May. My five-year-old son was
engaging in some outdoor learning: water play in our garden. 


I had recently given birth to my second son and was looking for ways to help my new duo bond and
get to know each other and what primary resources to use.

The baby and I joined my son and we all started playing in the water. It was then that the term
‘differentiation’ hit me in a muddy teacher kind of way.


Whilst teaching in the classroom, I generally differentiate the children’s work and learning methods
five or six ways to ensure I meet the needs of every child suitably. 


Yet, here I was undertaking the same activity with a three-month old and a five-year old. Where was
the differentiation? It was still there. I had different expectations of my children. My baby was quite
happily engaging in sensory play and listening to his new family, whereas my son was playing ‘sink or
float’ and questioning the materials that the objects were made of.


The same happened a few days later with shaving foam. My baby dipped his feet in for a sensory
experience from a pack on the Muddy Puddle Teacher site and my son was practising his phonics and handwriting, the muddy way of course. 


These experiences have made me look at outdoor learning and how the use of differentiation can
actually push children to reach their potential. Belief in a child is so important for their wellbeing and
their desire to learn.


If I had started water play with my five-year-old and expected him to just dip his hands in and grab toys, like my baby, he would think the activity was boring and possibly start to cause mayhem with
the water. Although the resources and area were the same, my differentiated belief in him
supported his learning through play and he was able to achieve a bit of scientific understanding. 


Let all your pupils and children revel in an outdoor learning environment but don’t focus on traditional
differentiated activities, like in the classroom. Provide a free reign with choice and let them surprise
you. I know many Year 6 boys who choose to play with sticks (just like my Reception child). See what
they build or role-play; let them inspire you and only then should you start thinking about adding a
hint of direction to progress their learning outside the classroom.


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5.0 rating
23 October 2020

Luv the MPT’s!

Vivvianne Todwick

Here are 3 top outdoor learning ideas to get you started :

  1. Make sure the children have the right clothing - bring a muddy bag in or dress for mud that day!
  2. Make it messy and muddy - why not you are outside!
  3. Stick to natural resources - less clearing up for you and more kind to the environment.

Our muddy resources support all curriculums and we use only natural resources so any school, anywhere can use our approach. Including Early Years Framework, NC, CfE, American Curriculums.

Looking for a group subscription? We offer big reductions for schools and nurseries that book in groups. The more staff the more the discount per person. Click here for a quote.

Outdoor learning in primary schools is an essential way to bring wellbeing to the classroom.

Here are some muddy top tips to make a start in each key stage.

  • Outdoor Learning KS2 - Try taking 10-minute slots or brain breaks in between sessions. Do the Muddy Walk and Talk and just use it for general discussion or chat.
  • Outdoor Learning KS1 - Try taking phonics games outside. Choose a sound and use leaves
  • Outdoor Learning EYFS - If you can make sure there is an outside space that is accessible and start to reduce the plastic and have more natural objects. Such as leaves they can write on, stones to do art with. Strip back the made plastic objects and keep natural for optimum imagination and creative skills to be used.
  • Outdoor Learning KS2 - Try taking 10-minute slots or brain breaks in between sessions. Do the Muddy Walk and Talk and just use it for general discussion or chat.
  • Outdoor Learning KS1 - Try taking phonics games outside. Choose a sound and use leaves
  • Outdoor Learning EYFS - If you can make sure there is an outside space that is accessible and start to reduce the plastic and have more natural objects. Such as leaves they can write on, stones to do art with. Strip back the made plastic objects and keep natural for optimum imagination and creative skills to be used.

For more outdoor learning ideas for primary schools, sign up for FREE! If it is active learning you are looking for try GoNoodle a great way to get kids moving inside the class.

Watch the MPT safety videos to help you practice the best outdoor learning methods. These videos are also useful for those practising forest school.

Search for more outdoor learning resources : Babies (0-2) | Tots (2-4) | EYFS (4-5) | KS1(5-7) | LKS2( 7-9) | UKS2 (9-11) | Special Needs

For Training head to: Accredited Training | Short Certificate Courses

Have you also checked: Outdoor Ebooks | Assembly Packs | Home Learning Packs | Safety Support | Special Outdoor Events

  • Support Outdoor Learning charities and head to Learning through Landscapes who can help with free outdoor learning ideas.
  • Institute for Outdoor Learning are also a fabulous charity to refer to if you want to gather ideas for outdoor learning training and organisations.
  • Look out for Green Flag Award to promote outdoor learning in primary schools through the muddy puddles approach.