Kierna Corr: We love outdoor play because…

Kierna Corr works with 26 children in her nursery class in Northern Ireland. Here she describes how outdoor play has helped her class

The only class in the lovely fluffy snow

We (me the nursery teacher and an assistant) moved into a brand new purpose built nursery class in 2006 after having been in a mobile classroom before this. Luckily our architect took advice from us from the start and we got the perfect outdoor space we had always wanted. It’s not a massive space but we use it wisely.

In 2007 in our class of 26 children we had 19 boys. We were finding it very difficult to get them settled to play inside at the start of the day so we started to get parents/carers to bring the children straight outside first thing in the morning. It worked brilliantly. Not that I like to stereo-type, but the boys got their chance to run off some of their excess energy and were much more settled when we came inside. We have been doing this same thing ever since and find all the children are easily settled from outside, there are more places/activities to catch their interests and they find it easier to part from parents/carers.

In the better weather, usually May/June in N. Ireland, we spend the whole day outside (9.00-1.45) only going inside for lunch. In fact, if we were designing the classroom again I would make the outside space bigger than the inside and have an outside toilet! We are fortunate to go once a month to a local woodland classroom as well and it’s great to see all the children excited about spending time outside. We provide suitable waterproof clothing and ask all children to supply a pair of wellies to be kept in school.

In December we had the best snow fall ever for more than 25 years and yet ours was the only class outside enjoying the lovely fluffy snow! Experience over the past 3 years has shown that the children are much happier, busier and more motivated outside.

My dream would be to start an outdoor nursery!

Kierna teachers at Windmill Integrated Primary School in Northern Ireland. The school was established in 1988 thanks to the vision of a group of local people who wished for their children to be educated in a setting free from mainstream schools which were segregated along religious lines. It is situated at the edge of the town boundary offering a wonderful view over Ballysaggart Lough.

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Comments
3 Responses to “Kierna Corr: We love outdoor play because…”
  1. Lesley says:

    Thank you for sharing. What a cool idea — outdoor bathroom!!!!!!

  2. sandram says:

    hello,
    and thank you for sharing your experiences, I used to work outdoors
    doing Forest Schools, it was fun,, fab and the children loved it too,
    interesting point re settling the boys, but do you think it also increases
    the girls adventurousness too??
    What types of activities do you do?
    i love sharing ideas
    thanks
    sandra

  3. What a lovely account! I’m always interested to know how and why teachers start going outside. I think you will find that within a few years your outdoor nursery dream may come true. We have 4 already in Scotland, a 5th in the pipeline and all sorts of plans being hatched elsewhere. It was the outdoor nurseries that raised everyone’s expectations and understanding about spending time outside in Sweden.

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