'There are associated health benefits to learning outdoors. Research indicates that the use of green space or green exercising improves health...' Curriculum for Excellence through outdoor learning - Education Scotland
The outdoor setting of the Yorkshire Arboretum is host to over two thousand school children per year. Here, children can pond dip for larvae, create habitats for minibeasts, search for the colours of the season for a story stick of memories, and create a shelter for protection from wind and rain throughout the seasons.
Children naturally enjoy the investigative skills which outdoor learning promotes through science. During pond dipping the children use identification keys and discuss how freshwater invertebrates wriggle or slide. The innate links between this and physical education can also be exploited. Which child wouldn’t relish sliding like a leech using extension and contraction of their limbs? The links to orienteering are evident where skills of speed and accuracy are paramount.
For PSHE skills to develop it may be that shelter building, with its task of making the most waterproof and windproof structure, brings with it attributes of confidence, achievement and cohesion. This is also evident in the amazing achievement of a child holding a worm for the first time.
Children may not remember everything from their time at the arboretum, but to some the treasured memory that they created a caterpillar from alder-tree catkins is sufficient.