OUTDOOR LEARNING (OLE)

At ISD, we're passionate about outdoor learning, extending learning beyond the classroom walls, offering children an alternative environment free of traditional boundaries, and opening their minds to new ideas and possibilities. 

There are five outdoor learning environments (OLE) on the elementary school campus; flexible learning spaces with tunnels, hills, quiet corners, and open spaces. Designed to provide rich, multi-sensory experiences, these environments stimulate creativity and spark curiosity. 

Students in Reception, Prep, and grade 1 have scheduled outdoor learning time every day, with a focus on learning through play. In the upper year levels, most students have scheduled outdoor learning time every other day.

Our outdoor learning team designs learning activities which drive and complement classroom units of inquiry, as well as developing stand-alone outdoor units of inquiry. Examples of units that incorporate an outdoor learning component include: cycles are a part of life (reception); imagination takes us to other worlds (prep); tools help us to create (grade 1); art is in nature (grade 2); matter can be changed (grade 3); access to natural resources (grade 4); simple machines (grade 5). 

ISD is the only international school in Europe to have developed outdoor learning to this extent. As a result, professionals from around the world come to ISD to witness our programmes in action.


 

OUTDOOR
LEARNING
CONFERENCE

 

Currently in its third year, the Outdoor Learning Conference has been designed to bring together a community of educators who are looking to create or to enhance outdoor learning programmes in their own schools. Throughout the conference, our team hosts a series of discussions and workshops around the topics of: development of space; unit planning; outdoor learning and EAL; maths in outdoor learning; supporting research and what it says; and risk assessment.


 

EXPLORE OLE
WITH TESS

Tess is in grade 5 at ISD, and has been participating in our outdoor learning programme since she joined ISD in reception. We invite you to explore the sections below to hear more from Tess and her teachers about the many facets of outdoor learning at ISD!

SKILLS
& TOOLS

LEARNING REAL WORLD SKILLS  

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INTEGRATED
LEARNING

AN EXTENSION OF CLASSROOM LEARNING  

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NATURE &
WELLBEING

LEARNING TO CONNECT TO NATURE  

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PLAY-BASED
LEARNING

LEARNING THROUGH IMAGINATION  

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Creating a space for self-directed learning is exemplified by the Outdoor Learning Environment. What initially started as a way for the early learners to explore their environment has grown into a full-fledged programme resulting in an expansion of the outdoor learning spaces, dedicated staffing, and Outdoor Learning being built into the schedule of every learner in the Elementary School.
NEASC Accreditation Team Chair, 2019

ISD’s classrooms are dynamic spaces that promote inquiry and collaboration and, together with OLE, offer a learning environment that can flexibly meet our learners’ diverse needs.
Carol Breedlove
Outdoor Learning teacher

There is broad and compelling research supporting the claim that children at play experience heightened curiosity, deeper engagement in learning, and greater responsiveness and sensitivity to those around them.
Sarah Burnham-Slipper
Outdoor Learning teacher

 

Importantly, outdoor learning fosters a meaningful connection to the natural environment that allows for appreciation of, and respect for, biodiversity. 
Kayleigh Waterworth
Outdoor Learning teacher

Working with different tools and equipment, children learn to identify and mitigate potential safety risks; build basic structures; and, perhaps most notably, their confidence and independence soars.

Simon Waterworth
Outdoor Learning teacher

Outdoor learning (OLE)