Back in March we celebrated British Science Week… and shared our ideas for taking STEM outdoors. These included:
Maths Mark Making. Sometimes outdoor learning can be as simple as 1,2,3. Grab some paintbrushes, water and chalk and head over to the concrete (or one of our whiteboards or chalkboards) with the little ones to practice writing those numbers.
Stick measuring. Get your hands grubby and go stick hunting for this activity. Ask your children to find sticks of all shapes and sizes in the playground. Bring them all back together and sort them from largest to smallest. Ask them to think about the sticks that are curved, wider or different shapes. And once they’ve done that why not get them measuring the lengths and diameters of parts of their woodland towers or fitness trails?
Hula hoop clock. Learn how to tell the time with an outdoor hula hoop clock. Made from just chalk, a hula hoop and twigs, ask the children to move the hands to the times you shout out. And once you’ve done that you could introduce our Solar Powered Stop Clock to get them timing themselves on activities.
It seems amazing to think that, since then, we’ve been on lockdown and are only now considering how we can get children back to school and learning outdoors.
That’s why we’ve taken a look at all of the KS1 and KS2 Science and KS1 and KS2 Maths to pick out four of our products that can really help to deliver learning outdoors and in a socially-distant way.
First up is our award-winning Poddely range. Our largest set of Poddely includes a colourful variety of cubes, prisms, interlocking tiles, chutes, light filters and other accessories to encourage creative free flow play and learning across the STEM curriculum. It comes complete with a large storage pod with lockable wheels, large chalkboard back and waterproof cover.
Five STEM ideas for using Poddely:
Build a water run
Describe the difference between the different materials used in Poddely
Measure the different elements in Poddely and record the results
Use Poddely to create an outdoor science display of your work
Describe the different shapes you can find in Poddely
If you’d like to find out a bit more you can watch our short video or see some examples of Poddely in action.
Rather like our award-winning Poddely our Flow Walls are a great way for children to work together on challenges that involve problem-solving, teamwork and cooperation. Not only is this a superb way to understand the theories behind ‘flow’ but elements of imaginative play can be worked in as children create stories around the pathways and building process.
Five STEM ideas for using our Flow Wall:
- Design and build a water run that includes at least one channel, funnel and wheel
- Measure the lengths and diameters of the water chutes
- Measure how much water goes in at the top and how much reaches the bottom to find out how much is lost
- Describe the different shapes you can find in the Flow Wall
- Use the Flow Wall to present your work to the group and explain how the water moves
We’ve always worked really hard to make sure that children have access to our planters and garden grow range as quickly and easily as possible. In fact, we think that being able to offer them for purchase online, with speedy delivery, is important.
If you’re thinking of taking children outdoors for STEM learning then gardening is an excellent way to do it.
Five STEM ideas for our planters:
Measure the volume of plant pots and watering cans as you use them - what is the combined volume of several plants - how can you measure the surface area of the planter and its volume?
Counting leaves, plants or even mini-beasts is a great way to learn
Learn about life processes through planting seeds, looking after them and watching them grow - you can even carry this on to eating the (edible) vegetables you might grow!
Transform your planter into a rain forest and learning about the rain forest as a habitat
Learn about the different materials, and their properties, in your planter
Okay, so our sand and water play products might not be quite the same as the summer holiday we’re all craving, on the beach, but they’re great fun for smaller children and a great way to learn about STEM. Whether you’re encouraging them to develop spatial awareness through carrying things from A to B, experimenting with flow, turning and pouring to develop hand/eye coordination, or exploring why things sink and float, outdoor play with sand and water is a fantastic place for even the smallest children to start.
Although our Water Table is also good for discovery (and our Large Sandpit is a great traditional choice, offering more opportunity for use through the year with its shelter) we think that our Rectangular Discovery Pit with Staging, Square Discovery Pit with Staging and Hexagonal Discovery Pit with Staging are perfect for offering a wide range of opportunities. Children can pull back the covers to explore the properties of sand, pebbles and other loose materials. You can bury things under the surface and ask them to dig to find them. You can even include them in story time, to help children take an active part. Best of all they all offer staging that means not only are they great for discovery sand play… but they double as performance and storytelling spaces too!
Five STEM ideas for sand play:
Use the sand to create a range of 2D and 3D shapes for children to name
Whether drawing numbers in the sand or counting the number of sandcastles you make, counting is great when it’s started in the sand
Learn about the different properties of sand when it is wet and dry, compacted and loose
Bury various items for children to discover, in the sand. These could be different materials (like pebbles, wood or leaves) or could be examples of different animals that live in sandy climates
Employ a range of other equipment to create a more versatile and engaging learning and play experience. These might include buckets and spades, pots or dishes, but also our Material Movement Kit, Wooden Chutes, Free Standing Bucket and Rail or Free Standing Scales.
If you would like to talk to us about how to take STEM outdoors you can contact us today. Whilst things are not yet 'business as usual', we'd love to hear from you to discuss any current or new projects. Our team can also provide advice and support via phone, email or hold free consultations via video calls, and we are now also undertaking socially distanced site visits where this is possible and safe to do so.
Our summer installation schedule is also now getting very busy so please do contact us as soon as possible if this is something you're thinking about.