Outdoor Classroom Ideas for your School Playground
What is Outdoor Classroom Learning?
Outdoor Classroom learning is planned, and purposeful activities and resources chosen by the teacher in accordance with the national curriculum to enhance children’s learning, whilst at the same time improving their mental health, self-awareness, and nature around them.
Outdoor Classrooms can be either at school or off-site on school trips. Both should provide engaging and stimulating approaches to learning. Taking the classroom outdoors can have a huge impact on children’s development and learning by:
- Improving problem-solving skills
- Improving communication skills
- Improving resilience
- Providing opportunities for exploration
- Providing opportunities for experimentation
- Providing opportunities for contextual learning
The Benefits of Outdoor Classrooms:
There are so many positives to outdoor classroom learning that they are categorised into 4 broad groups: background, planned, bonus, and wider benefits.
Background benefits are those which arise from spending time out in nature and:
- Improve personal and social communication skills
- Increase physical health
- Improve mental and spiritual health
- Improve sensory, spiritual, and aesthetic awareness
- Improve self-control and understand one’s own well-being
- Improve engagement and ownership of learning
(Morris. N., 2003.)
Planned benefits are those which arise from planned outdoor learning, such as educational trips and visits, which help children to:
- Improve their self-esteem, personal responsibility, and co-operation skills as well as respecting others around them.
- Increase their appreciation and understanding of their environment and the people around them.
- Improve teamwork and collaboration with people around them in different environments.
- Improve problem-solving and teamwork skills.
- Improve an understanding of personal health and well-being in a positive and thought-provoking environment.
- Be included, especially for children with Special Educational Needs where activities can be inclusive and where all children can be together and experience the same activities.
(City of Salford., 2003.)
Bonus benefits arise when by chance rather than predetermined. However, to gain more from these bonus benefits, there must be a highly encouraging environment for learning.
Wider Benefits of Outdoor Learning:
The Wider Benefits of Outdoor Learning are those that benefit the participants such as families, schools, sponsors, society, and forthcoming generations. The more people involved in Outdoor Learning, the more opportunities the participants will gain.
The Different Styles of Outdoor Classrooms:
Pentagon Play has a fantastic range of Outdoor Classrooms for schools to enhance your pupils’ learning. All are made from high-quality and sustainably sourced materials and are constructed on-site, according to your requirements. Whatever the weather, your children will be able to venture out of the classroom and experience learning in an inspiring and natural environment.
What schools need to think about when creating an Outdoor Classroom is:
- What do they want from an Outdoor Classroom?
- Do you have any Outdoor Classroom Ideas?
- Do you want a free-standing enclosed Outdoor Classroom, a free-flow area from the classroom to the outside, or a communal meeting outdoor sheltered area?
- Do you have an area(s) for building and creating an Outdoor Classroom?
- Is there easy access from inside the school to the Outdoor Classroom?
- Who will it be used by? Sole classes, whole school, multiple classes at once, clubs, staff room, etc.
- What facilities do you need in your Outdoor Classroom? Chalkboards, whiteboards, seating, storage, etc?
- Do you want or need electricity in your Outdoor Classroom?
Once you have some clarity about what you want, need, and have room for, you can then look at all the different and fantastic options that are available.
Pentagon Play’s wide range of Outdoor Classrooms includes Cabins (and Lodges), Canopies, Gable-End Outdoor Classrooms, and Gazebos. … Here are a few that could add value to any school’s Outdoor Classroom experience!
Outdoor Science Cabin:
The next Einstein, Hawkins, or Curie could be among your pupils, so why not nurture their scientific and inquisitive minds in one of our Science Cabins...?
Benefits of Outdoor Classrooms - Outdoor Science Cabin:
An ideal and cost-effective setting for any School, Forest School, or woodland area, Pentagons’ Science Cabins create the perfect learning environment for curious minds.
They can accommodate a full classroom and be bespoke built to meet your school’s requirements. Providing an outdoor teaching space and a change of scenery for children will bring science lessons to life.
Internally the Science Cabins can be configured to meet your learning requirements with workstations and storage for your resources.
Providing Outdoor Classrooms for schools offers added flexibility for your children and staff.
What do you get?
Made from high-quality timber frames with a range of different attractive cladding and glazing options to choose from, a Science Cabin will add an attractive, enticing, fun, and natural-looking outdoor classroom to your playground, field, or woodland area.
As well as a beautiful and natural appearance internally, a Science Cabin can be kitted out with a choice of:
- High quality durable flooring
- Open-ended seating arrangements
- Integrated shelving and storage solutions
- Chalkboards and whiteboards for mark-making and visual displays
- Timber planters for seasonal flora and fauna throughout the year!
It will also:
- Be fully connected to a power supply (*power supply to be connected by another company recommended by us)
- Insulated and
- Double glazed for year-round learning.
Our extensive range of Canopies could be the answer to your free-flow needs, allowing children to continue their learning just outside of the classroom in a safe, sheltered, and structured environment.
Pentagon has a wide range of different Canopies to suit every school’s requirements:
- Freestanding Timber Canopy
- School Canopy with Cladding, Glazing, and Roller Shutter
- School Canopy
- School Canopy with Cladding
- School Canopy with Cladding and Glazing
- School Canopy with Cladding, Glazing, and Storage Area
- Bespoke Timber Canopy
But let’s look at the Bespoke Timber Canopy…
Benefits of Outdoor Classrooms - Bespoke Timber Canopy:
Pentagon’s Bespoke Timber Canopy can help to revolutionise your pupil’s free-flow learning needs, providing another option for Outdoor Classrooms for schools and creating an Outdoor Classroom just outside of their form room in a safe and sheltered environment. A perfect extension of the classroom where children can play and learn in a wide, open space. Brilliant for all types of learning from creative play to group work.
Pentagon’s Bespoke Timber Canopies can be free-standing or installed against your school building providing additional shelter for your children, creating an Outdoor Classroom. Canopies form a fantastic space to encourage children to wander outdoors to enhance their learning whilst keeping dry on rainy, hailstone, or snowy days… Whilst at the same time learning about the different seasons and seeing it firsthand on a sensory basis.
What do you get?
Outdoor Classroom design is Pentagon Play’s area of expertise. We will design a bespoke outdoor Timber Canopy to suit the needs of your outdoor learning area by:
- Listening to your requirements and ideas
- Designing a Canopy to meet your needs and building regulations approval
- Excavating and placing concrete post foundations in the ground: 500m3
- Building the Canopy out of structurally graded timber
- Using high-pressure treated timber for above and below-ground use
- Using planed and chamfered timber for smooth sides and edges
- Using Aluminium glazing bars
- Using twin wall polycarbonate roof in translucent opal finish
- Using a rainwater system.
Gable-End Outdoor Classrooms:
Benefits of Outdoor Classrooms - Gable-End Outdoor Classrooms:
Pentagon’s Gable-End Outdoor Classrooms are perfect Outdoor Classrooms for schools that need a bespoke Outdoor Classroom option. An ideal and inspiring outdoor setting for children to study, develop, connect, and grow whilst learning different subjects across the curriculum.
Creating an Outdoor Classroom allows whole classes or small groups to learn in a water-tight space, taking the children outdoors to learn on a regular basis.
This versatile Classroom comes with a variety of options for:
- Size (6mx5m, 9mx5m,12mx5m – other sizes can be explored)
- Mark making boards.
What do you get?
A bespoke Gable-End Outdoor Classroom that meets your school’s needs!
The structure consists of:
- High-pressure treated structural grade timber
- High-pressure treated “play grade” timber
- Post centres
- Exterior grade plywood
- Bitumen roof shingles
- Geotextile weed-suppressant membrane (when installed on grass)
- Double-sided steel (magnetic) chalkboard.
Pentagon Play offers multiple options for Outdoor Classrooms for schools of which Gazebos are one. Choose from one of our wide range of Gazebos to enhance children’s outdoor learning. By incorporating a Gazebo into your school’s outdoor learning environment (whether, on a playground, field, garden, or woodland), you are providing and creating an Outdoor Classroom for your pupils. But more importantly, you are giving the children a wonderful and exciting outdoor working environment for them to grow and learn!
Pentagon’s Gazebo Range consists of:
- 3.5m Hexagonal Gazebo
- 5m Hexagonal Gazebo
- 5m Hexagonal Gazebo with Decked Base
- 5m Hexagonal Secret Garden Gazebo
- 6m Octagonal Gazebo
- 6m Octagonal Gazebo with Decked Base
- 7.5m Octagonal Gazebo
- 7.5m Octagonal Gazebo with Decked Base
- Bespoke Gazebo Options
Let’s look at our 7.5m Octagonal Gazebo with Decked Base….
Benefits of Outdoor Classrooms - 7.5m Octagonal Gazebo with Decked Base:
Pentagon Plays' biggest Gazebo provides the opportunity for up to 70 children to learn in a sheltered, stimulating, outdoor learning environment! Whether you need space for small group work to multiple class work, our 7.5m Gazebo gives your school the flexibility to use this fantastic facility however you want and where you want. Our experts will help you with your Outdoor Classroom design, all you need is the perfect setting for the Gazebo (playground, woodland, or field), and our experts at Pentagon Play will design and build it for you – stress-free!
Creating an Outdoor Classroom by building a Gazebo’s allows more flexibility and space for teaching and learning. The Gazebo’s waterproof roof and decked floor base mean that your children won’t get wet and can stay focused on rainy days, as well as keeping their feet nice and dry during their learning and stopping muddy shoes from entering the indoor classroom!
What do you get?
This impressive octagonal Gazebo comprises of:
- A bitumen shingle covered, timber roof,
- High-pressure treated structural grade timber
- Supported substantial 6” round posts
- Seven benches
- Seven sides of picketing fencing
- Wooden decked base
- Geotextile weed suppressant membrane (when installed on grass)
- * Option to have a chalkboard installed
How do you get an Outdoor Classroom?
By contacting one of our expert advisers on 01625 890 330 or Contact Us via our website. One of our specialist Outdoor Classroom advisers will then contact you by phone or email to arrange a no-obligation-free visit to your school and talk about your Outdoor Classroom ideas.
Once we know about your Outdoor Classroom ideas and where you want your Gazebo to be installed, we can provide you with some Outdoor Classroom designs and install it for you. Providing the perfect outdoor learning environment for your children.
Educational Trips and Visits, Health and Safety Guidance Notes, City of Salford (Revised 2003)
Health, Well-Being and Open Space, Literature Review by Nina Morris, OPENspace Research Centre, (2003).