Passing on the relay baton

What a summer (so far, I know we’re not done yet, I can tell it is still August by the scorching temperatures and having to find shade at every opportunity) but I wanted to share that I am handing the (outdoor learning) relay baton over to the new Year 1 teacher in September who is very excited about getting her new class outside at every opportunity too.  I am not going, just moving – two doors away to Year 3 where I am continuing to learn and teach outside as much as possible.  I have created a new, sister-blog if you like – so the wider community can follow our adventures.  Good luck to one and all – and don’t drop that baton – it worked for the GB team!



Making memories

As we hurtle towards the end of term, end of Year 1 for this class, end of my first year of teaching, end of an era  – our Explorers have been making memories.  Quite apt I feel.

However the memories the children have been making this week in Explorers aren’t necessarily the kind they will reminisce about.  These memories were serving a purpose, these memories have a job to do – help us learn how to remember.  The children in the class have the most incredible imaginations as you would expect from 5 and 6 year olds however they struggle to record these fabulous ideas as often as soon as they have said it, they have forgotten it and I want them to learn how to remember.  So that is what we focussed on this week.

It was fascinating to observe the techniques the children used to try and remember – some remembered by colour, some by numbers, some by pointing at each object and saying what it was before one was taken away.   All the children got to share their strategies which helped their friends new ways of remembering too.  There is a flip side to helping them improve their memory however, now they remind me of what I said we could do.  Which is why I now need to go shopping to get ingredients for making smoothies tomorrow.

The final two weeks of term will be full of activities and experiences that will give the children a chance to reflect and remember their time in Year 1 and be excited about their move to Year 2.  They may well forget as they get older, but me on the other hand won’t.

Memory test 1

Memory test


Bio-blitzing bonanza!

Boxed-in, balmy and boisterous.  That’s enough alliteration for now – but I hope you get the idea that the children have missed being Explorers for a very short while.  This was mainly due to the extremely hot weather we have had, needless to say now it is positively wintery with us having to find jumpers again this week.  A happy medium would be best – please.

This week our intrepid Explorers have been bio-blitzing!  They have had an area that each team have to use all their observation skills to see what living things they can spot.  The assigned areas have stayed the same all week, so it will be interesting to see what each group reports back.  The children have been remembering how to work as a team – what it should sound like and what it should look like.

“We should be kind to each other and think of each other, not just ourselves.” Couldn’t have put it better myself.

I truly believe team work is a crucial skill to possess. No man is an island right, so if we can learn from a young age how to work together it will help us throughout our whole lives.  I do appreciate the children I work with are young and may not get the concept of getting older (I love the fact they think I am aged 12 – to them that is SO old), but they aren’t to young to learn how to get along and become a strong team. Over the course of their primary schooling they will get to know each other so very well, if I can help them learn to celebrate each others differences – see them as positive strengths – then I feel I am doing a positive thing.

Like the creatures on the ground – we all share the same piece of rock that is our planet, let’s do it in peace.


We’d like to know what you think.

The good people behind the global initiative of Outdoor Classroom Day would like to know, as parents, what you thought of the day.  If you would like to fill in their survey, it would be greatly appreciated.

In other news, we are back to school today after our half term break.  I can’t wait to hear all the children’s news and activities they have been up to since the end of last term.

I made sure I spent as much time as possible outside, enjoying the beautiful sunshine (when we had it) and took the dog  and family camping in the wilds of North Devon – bliss.

In the meantime, here is an interesting recent article from the BBC as to why outdoor learning is so good for us.

Crystal Palace park (Image: BBC)



Outdoor Classroom Day – one in a million


Shared experiences = best of friends

What a day! I am exceptionally proud to have been part of the global campaign- Outdoor Classroom Day .  Over one million children – worldwide experienced the enormous benefits of being outside, discovering, exploring, observing and learning.   The Outdoor Classroom day represents everything that we, with our Explorers group work on: encouraging everyone to get outdoors to play and learn.


Needless to say our Explorers LOVED it.  “We had so much fun and I really enjoyed working together with my friends.”  “We were eco-hunters looking for natural treasures!” “Wow, if we really listen, we can hear lots of birds singing.” “When the air blows I can smell it, and feel it – it changes with the weather.”

These were just some of the insightful, thoughtful and inspiring comments from the crew after our session. The pictures shown on here were all taken by the children themselves.  Pretty good huh?

We all feel better when we spend time outside, allowing all our senses to be stimulated by the world around us – try it, everyday, go on… it’ll make a difference!



“Our shadows – without the sun we wouldn’t have them!”

Children’s voice

This was our first week back after a glorious Easter break and we were looking for signs of Spring.  I will let the children’s voices tell you more:

What has changed in our outside area?

“The grass has been cut. It needed cutting because it had grown too long.”

“There are buds on the trees.”

“The fungus has changed it was yellow now it is white.” Why do you think that is?

“Because it is Spring, and it’s hot and maybe when it is hot it turns white.”

“Maybe it has burnt because it can’t wear sun cream like us?”

“It is drier outside because it is Spring time – we don’t have to wear our wellies!”

We have learnt that blossom is now coming out. We have also learnt to be very observant. We have carried on learning and practising our team work.

The Year 1 crew ALL believe they can join in and learn from our Explorers sessions.





Loop de Loop!

In our final week before the end of term it was warm and sunny for all our Explorer sessions – yey! Spring was in the air, the children were spotting the signs, new life and new beginnings were everywhere – including within the Year 1 Crew.  In our last, guest post, Mrs Martin highlighted the positive changes she could see in the class.  In our final week the children ALL made a real effort to make that change to become real crew members; each having a role to play, each bringing their own unique talents and interests to work together – in, what I believe to be, a new beginning for our class.

This weeks activity was all about communication, both verbal and non-verbal.  The children had to pass a hoop round the circle without breaking it.  The first few times of doing it all the children enjoyed helping each other out and suggesting useful tips to how to get the hoop round.  After that the task got a little trickier as they were not allowed to speak – they had to think of others ways to communicate.  Fascinating to observe how the children interacted with each other, whilst continuing to work as a team – which they did, brilliantly.  Where some found it tricky, others who felt more confident, helped them out by kindly showing them, or demonstrating different options.  I am very proud of them.

Once we had finished the task, the groups were able to explore the area to bug hunt.  I was confident to send them off to work in pairs, and that they would work together.  They seemed to enjoy working with each other much more.  Maybe now they know how to work together, they can and therefore enjoy it more…?

Lastly (as the weather was fine and we had a bit of extra time before lunch) I let the children just be.  What they all just started doing was to pretend to build and light a fire – complete with flint-striking actions, “to get it started Mrs Barker, that’s what you have to do.”  Seeing them use their creative imaginations in this way – together, was a real joy.


Happy Easter everyone!

It’s not just me who can see a difference…

Guest blog from the highly experienced and much admired Mrs Martin:
My first teaching opportunity with the Year one was interesting! As individuals they were lovely but during the team building tasks I had been left to do with them I noticed they found it impossible to work as a team.  They were each highly competitive and completely focused on themselves with no sense of ‘crew’.  The team games quickly dissolved into tears of frustration and the games we played became a source of resentment and were simply unpleasant to play.
Returning after a couple of weeks during which they had taken part in Mrs Barkers ‘Explorer’ sessions was a revelation!  I was greeted by the children excited to share with me how they were now ‘good at being a crew’ and I was happy to put this to the test with some of the games we had played last time and some new ones of my own!
Firstly we played Popcorn a protocol for turn taking.  Previously we couldn’t (even after several attempts) get past the first person but this time I heard things like ‘you have your turn, I’m happy to go next’ and ‘I’ll be the better person and wait’.  We managed to get at least half way through the class before we got stuck between two children.  This was a significant difference and very encouraging for the parachute games we were about to play!
What we went outside the first thing I noticed was the difference in their listening skills. When previously the children had just shaken the parachute to death, this time they listened to the instructions. We played some basic games before building up to a game which took immense team work – transporting a fragile, dinosaur egg around the parachute to a named person.  Again I noticed the language used by the children was different and I could hear them saying things like ‘we can do this if we work as a team’. The children were amazing and spoke passionately about how they had learnt these skills through Explorers.  I am really looking forward to seeing how they continue to progress and develop these important skills for life! Well done Mrs Barker and the Year One CREW (I can call them that now)!
Thank you Mrs Martin, it is just wonderful that you can see how much they have all come on in a few short weeks.

It’s all about trust

Trust.  We know it’s important.  We offer it and show it everyday, sometimes without even knowing it.  To have a strong team, that really does work together, one that looks out for each other, thinks of other people’s needs to keep them safe –  trust, in my opinion, is vital.

Explorers have demonstrated an amazingly high level of trust in each other this week.  As a result the relationships they are building with each other are growing deeper and stronger – both of which support a strong crew ethic.  What an extremely useful life skill to learn at such a young age.

The children had to lead each other round an obstacle course, one being blindfolded and the other giving clear instructions to make sure they stayed on course and safe.  Wow.  What an experience for us all.  Despite an intrepid start the children rose to the challenge and safely lead each other round with only minor mishaps!

Back in the classroom, all the team building activities we have been working on during Explorers are beginning to filter through.  The children are really starting to work together and more importantly, can see for themselves how beneficial that is for their own learning.  “When we work with each other like a real crew – it makes our learning so much better,” Maisy.  Couldn’t put it better myself.


Next time we’re going Loop de Loop!

Tied up in knots!

Continuing with our team building activities, this week the Year 1 Explorers have been getting themselves in knots – and more important getting themselves out of them too! The children were really thinking and trying hard about what a good team looks like and what it sounds like.

We heard super communication between the children; and observed children demonstrating patience and stamina to solve their knotted-problem.  We are delighted that their hard work in Explorers is beginning to filter  back into the classroom, with so much evidence backing up that peer to peer learning is one of the most effective methods of children learning – then teaching them how to work together and learn from each other is an invaluable life skill.  Well done Explorers!

Next time – trust and teamwork – hand in hand? We shall see…