We do love to get outside as much as we can, and it’s certainly when my son is at his happiest. Whether it be on a walk through our estate to the local nature reserve, a trip to the woods or somewhere further afield, there are always adventures to be had. I don’t always think about it, but in fact my son is learning all the while whilst having fun. It’s a win win situation really. This May I’m working with Persil to show how we will be celebrating Outdoor Classroom Day on 17th May and embracing dirt along the way. Persil believes that every child should have the opportunity to learn and develop through outdoor play and exploration. Their goal is to get all families to #EmbraceDirt and experience life, with all its messiness. It’s something that I’m passionate about too. In 2018 Persil are again supporting the global movement that is Outdoor Classroom Day. It’s a worldwide programme which aims to inspire and celebrate outdoor learning and play. On that day, millions of children in schools around the world take lessons outside and celebrate outdoor play and learning. We want to make outdoors part of every day – and elevate the importance of outdoors time to families and communities.
Celebrating Outdoor Classroom Day on 17th May is something that school’s across the world have been involved with for a number of years. Last year alone, 2.1 million children got to leave their classrooms and learn outdoors for the day. This year, families are also being encouraged to open their front doors and have fun with the kids outside. You might want to fly a kite and talk about how the kite takes off and then stays in the air, or go on a geocaching adventure looking at map coordinates and compass settings.
My son and I will be having a couple of adventures over the next couple of weeks, embracing dirt I’m sure, this is my son after all, having fun whilst learning.
This challenge has actually made me realise how much I’m teaching my son without even realising it. We were in North Wales recently, exploring the mountains and water played a big part of the landscape. My son has been learning about volcanoes at school recently, the subject came alive for him when my niece sent him photos of a ‘real’ volcano from where she’s now living in New Zealand. Whilst I may not be able to show him a volcano up close right at the minute, I could show him mountains and we could talk about how the landscape around them was formed by water movement millions of years ago.
We talked about glaciers and the Ice Age and about how water had carved out this impressive landscape. We decided to look at a stream and see how the water moved, there are so many streams in the area that we were spoilt for choice really. But a trip to Bodnant Garden really showed how water could flow in different situations and my son loved chasing the stream along its course.
The stream was flowing over rocks and around them. We talked about why water travelled downhill rather than up, looking at gravity at work. We could see how smoothly the water surface flowed without any obstacles to navigate.
As well as seeing the difference when there were obstructions in the way of the path of the water. There was turbulence in the current and the stepping-stones really showed my son the difference in the water as it flowed around them.
What else was difference? The noise. From a tranquil stream, as soon as the water hit the stepping-stones it had to force through the gaps in the stones, and we could really hear the water in motion. The waterfalls were even louder and they really helped my son understand a little bit more about velocity and movement as he watched the water thundering down from one level to another.
I suggested that my son capture his experiences on his camera, so he could remember what he’d seen and heard. He’s a vlogger at heart I think.
We may also have found a few sticks along the way for a game of pooh sticks. Another great way for children to see water flow in action. My son learned a long time ago by playing pooh sticks, that if you through a stick into stagnant water it won’t go anywhere because the water isn’t flowing. Also that you need to watch the direction that the water is flowing in, sticks won’t flow upstream!
Water provides an endless source of learning, and when we reached the ornamental ponds we could see light reflections at work. The water really was so still, no flow and it looked like a mirror.
My son is the third generation of bug hunters and whilst we didn’t see many insects in the water, we did find a frog (or toad, we weren’t too sure) swimming around. Showing us once again, that there’s always life beneath the surface of the water too.
We decided to end our time talking about water flow and movement down no the beach. Of course we also learned about changeable weather condition whilst we were in Wales, and all about the continual movement of rainfall from condensation rising, to rain falling. This was Wales after all! One minute beautiful blue skies and the next rain, lots of rain.
My son is fascinated my the sea, we don’t live close to it, so any visit is special. He’ll stand for ages just watching the tide ebb and flow.
Watching the waves crashing in.
We’ve talked before about tides coming in and out and how the water moves differently in tidal conditions. A pebble beach also shows how water works against stones over time to make them smooth.
He also got to try out his own powers of velocity as he threw pebbles into the sea, trying to make sure he timed his throws as the waves went out so that his pebble might get taken out to sea.
Ahead of Outdoor Classroom Day, we took a lesson water, looking at why and how it flowed and what happened when that flow was interrupted. It’s the sort of thing we could easily recreate in our garden at home. Creating a water slide for water to flow down and putting stones through the water to see how the water flows around them. We could have a bowl of water to show how light reflects across the surface and could used cups to pour water from, to hear water in motion. We will be celebrating Outdoor Classroom Day, but we are building up to it.
We had lots of fun learning about water, getting a bit wet at times, but just enjoying being outside in the fresh air. To my mind that’s exactly what childhood is all about. Learning through activities, and with my child it’s certainly where he learns best.
If you’d like to get involved with the Outdoor Classroom Day on 17th May, you can sign up on the Persil Embrace Dirt page. Let me know if you do and what ideas you have for a fun learning experience outdoors.
disclosure: this is a sponsored post in association with Persil, but my thoughts remain my own honest opinions