Outdoor Learning in Leeds

‘Learning outdoors creates lasting memories, helps build a greater awareness of the environment, provides more opportunities to think independently, and gets children feeling challenged and excited by learning.’ Outdoor Classroom Day website

Outdoor Classroom Day came early to Rose Court (the Nursery and Pre-prep section of The Grammar School at Leeds). Turns out that Outdoor Classroom Day was scheduled for 18 May this year. But we were outdoors a week ahead, on 11 May instead. And what a fabulous day we chose! Unbroken sunshine through all four of my Year 2 minibeast sessions.

Outdoors with Year 2 at Rose Court

Rhyme-Time Rambling with Year 2 at Rose Court (Photo by Rachel Cockburn)

You can read all about our activities on the school’s website. And see more fabulous photos taken on the day at the school’s facebook page. For my take on the day, read on …

Rhyme-Time Rambling with Year 2

Rhyme-Time Rambling with Year 2 (Photo by Rachel Cockburn)

One of the wonderful things about learning outside the classroom is that, whilst you can plan a session until you’re blue in the face, you never know what you and the children are actually going to encounter. For example, I walked onto the Rose Court playing field, just before my first session with the children, and I immediately spied a Green Woodpecker. In the heart of Leeds! (Which, according to the taxi driver I had on the way back to the station, is the fastest growing city in Europe.) (I haven’t fact-checked that, so it may or may not be 100% accurate!)

But back to our Green Woodpecker. I was at Rose Court because Year 2 is studying minibeasts. And whilst I was hoping/expecting we’d get to see, for example, ladybirds (yes) and snails (yes) and bees (yes), I hadn’t anticipated that we’d all be able to watch a Green Woodpecker. And the relevance to minibeasts? Well, the Green Woodpecker was on the field, repeatedly jabbing its beak into the grass, because it was looking for ants to eat. It eats some 2,000 of these a day, prising them out with its pointy beak and long sticky tongue. (You can watch a Green Woodpecker doing this, and find out more about it, in my Green Woodpecker poetry video here, which is taken from my new book, Flying High! Discover the poetry in British birds.)

And what, you may be wondering, is Outdoor Classroom Day? Well, to quote directly from their website:

‘Outdoor Classroom Day is a day to celebrate and inspire outdoor learning and play. On Thursday 18 May 2017, thousands of schools around the world will take lessons outside and prioritise playtime.

Why? Outdoor learning improves children’s health, engages them with learning and leads to a greater connection with nature.’

I can vouch for this – which is why I do the work I do!

Rose Court Year 2 pupils being millipedes (Photo by Rachel Cockburn)

Rose Court Year 2 pupils being millipedes (Photo by Rachel Cockburn)

So, if you’d like me to take your pupils on a rhyme-time ramble, or to turn them into poem-creating millipedes or to put on any of my other poetry+nature outdoor learning workshops, then just get in touch.

Meanwhile, a big Thank You to the many staff involved in my visit to Rose Court – including librarian Sandra Harris, who looked after me so well on the day, and Rachel Cockburn, for her write-up and photos. Not forgetting, of course, the Year 2 children, who were such a joy to be with.

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life




Topic: Minibeasts!

All the pupils at Hague Bar Primary School in Derbyshire are studying minibeasts this term, and their classrooms, hall and corridors are teeming with fabulous minibeast artwork. How do I know? Because I was there on Friday, to add some minibeast poetry to the mix!

I started the day by performing my interactive, cross-curricular, minibeast poetry show Buzzing! for the whole school. (During which much giggling was had by all …) I then spent the rest of the day working with each of their four classes in turn – indoors and out. At the end of the day the children all came together in a sharing assembly and performed some of the fantastic minibeast poems they’d created.

How did the day go? Well, the Year 5/6 teacher Jacinta Robinson thanked me for:

‘your brilliant assembly and workshops.
The staff and children loved it!
We would all highly recommend you to other schools.’

And Year 3/4 teacher Leah Jackson said my minibeast poetry workshop with her class was:

‘fantastic. All the children were fully engaged and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Every child produced something to be proud of.’

I was proud of the minibeast poems the children created too. As were their parents, some of whom had come along for the sharing assembly.

I think the school has something else to be proud of as well: the views it commands over the Derbyshire countryside. How’s about this for a view out of a classroom window?

The stunning view from a Hague Bar classroom

The stunning view from a Hague Bar classroom

I could go on at length about how enthusiastic and welcoming the children were, how inventive their poems were, how helpful all the staff were, etc. etc. etc. – but I have an important job to get on with. At the end of my visit the children bought more copies of my Buzzing! book than I had with me – so I need to go and sign and dedicate a lot more copies now and get them in the post!

If you’re studying minibeasts in your primary school and would like me to come and put on some cross-curricular minibeast poetry activities for your pupils, then do email me. I look forward to hearing from you.

Cover of my book Buzzing!

Anneliese Emmans Deanwww.thebigbuzz.biz – Bringing poetry to life