Did you know that it’s Outdoor Classroom Day on 18 May 2017? Championing outdoor learning and play, the global initiative is designed to get children, well, outdoors. It’s no secret that the Canadian International School (CIS) is a huge believer in the importance of outdoor play and, in support of the campaign, they’ll be hosting a FREE event for families at their Tanjong Katong campus on 18 May, 9am-10.30am. Head along for lots of super-cool educational outdoor activities, yummy light bites and the chance to see first-hand the benefits of outdoor learning. The school leadership team will also be on hand to take you on a tour of the campus and answer any questions you have about the outdoor learning programme. Register here now.
In the meantime, Amanda Saunders, Junior Kindergarten teacher at CIS’s Tanjong Katong campus, explains what Outdoor Classroom Day is all about and why CIS is so passionate about it.
What is Outdoor Classroom Day?
Founded in 2012 by a handful of schools in London, the initiative is a global campaign designed to celebrate and inspire outdoor learning and play for kindergarten and primary school students. In 2016, almost 500,000 children in 52 countries celebrated Outdoor Classroom Day.
Why has CIS decided to participate in Outdoor Classroom Day?
Outdoor learning plays an integral part of a student’s education at CIS, helping them thrive not only academically, but also emotionally, socially, creatively and physically. It’s also a great opportunity to showcase Tanjong Katong’s new Outdoor Discovery Centre.
Why is outdoor learning so important?
Sharpening brain development, creativity, teamwork, independence and social and gross motor skills, are just some of the tremendous benefits of learning in a natural environment. The experience also creates memorable and authentic learning experiences, and generates a greater awareness of the environment. Modern-day distractions and limited natural environments in residential areas, mean children may miss out on these huge learning opportunities if parents and schools aren’t proactive about getting children outdoors!
Tell us about CIS’s outdoor learning programme.
Whether its mathematics, language or science, lessons are extended into the outdoors whenever there is an opportunity for students to learn in a purposeful manner. In Kindergarten, outdoor learning is inquiry and play-based and takes place most of the time in our Outdoor Discovery Centre (ODC). In the older grades, it involves lessons in our ODC as well as field trips, excursion week and Open Minds – hands-on learning experiences in settings, such as Fort Canning, Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve and the Eco Garden at the Science Centre.
What’s so special about CIS’s outdoor learning environments?
Both campuses have an Outdoor Discovery Centre, which is an extension of the indoor classrooms and supports learning in ways that extend far beyond a traditional playground. Our children love everything about these spaces, but here are six extra-special features:
#1 Mud kitchen: It’s here that Kindergarten students slip off their shoes and get mud between their toes. In doing so, they’ll explore math concepts such as pouring, measuring and capacity and develop their sensory and language skills
#2 Herb garden: By tending to the gardens, children learn about the importance of health and nutrition and the role the environment plays in growing food.
#3 Eco pond: From the soothing waterfall to the colourful fish, turtles, dragonflies and plants, children develop an understanding of the importance of water ecosystems.
#4 Art walls: Children collaborate to produce large art murals using leaves, sticks and flowers from the garden.
#5 Sound garden: Students discover wonderful sounds made by playing with chimes, plastic buckets and other items attached to the purpose-built walls.
#6 Bicycle track, grassy hills and tunnels: The perfect spot to flex those gross motor skills and play a game of hide and seek. No encouragement needed!
What’s your favourite part about teaching outdoors?
Joining the students in the mud kitchen, and asking parent volunteers to get stuck in, too!
Can you suggest fun activities that parents can do with their children outdoors?
Go on a scavenger hunt, enjoy an outdoor picnic, lie on the grass and watch the clouds go by, or go on a nature walk and snap photos along the way – the options are endless!
Brought to you by the Canadian International School (CIS):
* Tanjong Katong campus, 371 Tanjong Katong Road, 437128
* Lakeside Campus, 7 Jurong West Street 41, 649414
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