Outdoor experiences, whether it’s exploring the playground, hands-on learning about the environment or an excursion, are a valuable part of education and vital for kids (and fun too!). At these international schools, experiential learning outdoors is as much a part of the curriculum as learning in the classroom.
Canadian International School
At Canadian International School (CIS), outdoor learning is integrated into the curriculum, allowing students to interact with a wide variety of environments, people and situations. This reinforces what they learn in class and increases their knowledge and understanding of the world.
In kindergarten, students engage in inquiry- and play-based activities in the school’s Outdoor Discover Centres. Teachers use the natural world as a learning tool as they guide students in purposeful play – they learn about volume and measurement while exploring the mud kitchen, compose poems on the literacy wall or explore how organisms live in the eco-pond. In primary school, students utilise the Outdoor Discover Centre for science lessons and embark on field trips, excursions or CIS’s unique Open Minds programme. These outdoor education activities encourage students to contextualise abstract knowledge in the real world.
Slated to open in early 2023 is a new junior wing at the school’s Lakeside campus. It will include a host of experiential learning and outdoor learning spaces such as outdoor arts pods and a huge Outdoor Discovery Centre, which will be an extension of kindergarten classrooms. Key features will include a mud kitchen, sound garden, eco pond, performance gazebos, bike tracks, play fort and art wall.
Trips that bring learning outdoors
Primary students in the Open Minds programme have the opportunity to spend up to five days investigating topics in real-world settings. This hands-on inquiry approach sees them interacting with field experts and outdoor environments such as Sungei Buloh, Gardens by the Bay and Chinatown. As a result, they develop observational, analytical and collaborative skills and a sense of independence, resilience and responsibility.
Tanjong Katong Campus: 371 Tanjong Katong Road
Lakeside Campus: 7 Jurong West Street
The Grange Institution
The Grange’s award-winning Green Granger, a forest school-inspired initiative, is part of efforts to champion education for sustainable development. The school is one of the only few schools in Singapore that has a forest school certified member amongst the academic team who plays an active role in this initiative.
The Green Granger initiative addresses some of the core competencies within the school’s “Cre8tors-in-Action” educational philosophy, including Respecting the Environment and Active Citizenship, with the aim of helping students develop a strong awareness of sustainability and current global issues such as climate change. At the school’s eco-garden, teachers conduct Cambridge Science lessons and students experience a variety of outdoor learning activities such as urban farming.
In 2022, there will be continued expansion of the eco-garden including class vegetable patches and increased land area for farming. There are also plans for progressive development of the 1.5-acre backfield; more outdoor learning spaces and adventure courses will be added too. This expansion is part of the school’s aim to redefine outdoor education beyond the typical physical activities; it gives students the added opportunity to build resilience, and work on team challenges and individual pursuits alike.
A recent outdoor education activity
During the previous school semester, the school conducted the Nature Explorers enrichment activity. The programme helps their Green Grangers to foster a deeper understanding of the relationship between themselves and the natural environment. This school-curated programme also helps student’s further develop their sense of curiosity, leading them to be more engaged and active in learning. During these experiential learning sessions, students are engaged in various activities relating to construction and design, art, and science and technology alongside experienced eco-guides.
449 Yio Chu Kang Road
UWC South East Asia
Opportunities for outdoor learning at UWCSEA begin from K1 and the Outdoor Education programme builds through Primary, Middle and High School. It provides students with new challenges and opportunities to build resilience, collaboration and leadership through experiential challenges.
As part of the programme, all students take part in a series of expeditions beginning with a sleepover at school in Grade 1 and culminating in an independently planned Project Week in Grade 11. Outdoor learning takes place during term time in all grades except Grade 9 – the students take part in an adventurous overseas expedition during their holiday breaks.
As overseas educational travel is currently not an option, the school is creating outdoor learning experiences on campus or in Singapore. Their experienced team of specialist educators are still creating learning opportunities that develop the same skills and qualities such as research, planning, self-management, cooperation, collaboration and outdoor skills, just closer to home.
An outdoor learning programme in Singapore
Grade 8 students recently spent four days in an outdoor education programme that covered Personal Challenge, Working with Others, Connection to Nature and Expedition Skills. Some of the activities include learning how to light a fire, trekking and kayaking. While engaged in activities amidst nature, they challenged themselves and each other. This experiential learning support the students to discover new things about themselves and their friends, have a deeper connection with nature, and pick up new skills and interests.
1207 Dover Road
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