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Outdoor furniture in learning environments

Have you noticed that the theme of outdoor learning environments shines brightly in School News?

Many studies expound the amazing benefits to children’s mental and physical health when they spend time learning and playing away from their usual classroom environment. When they are immersed in nature, embracing exciting adventures, experiences and communities they grow and develop creativity, imaginatively and intelligently.

This article was written for our print publication, School News Term 4, 2018. Did you receive your copy?

In Ken Robinson’s 2006 talk, Do Schools Kill Creativity? he states: “We know three things about intelligence: One, it’s diverse… We think about the world in all the ways that we experience it. We think visually, we think in sound, we think kinaesthetically. We think in abstract terms, we think in movement.”

There are many reasons to create wonderful learning spaces within your school’s outdoor environment, so it makes so much sense. An inspired outdoor classroom area should be a consideration not just because children get so much from them, but because these spaces are also very practical. An ideal solution when schools need to expand their classroom space when class sizes increase, they can also reduce noise and maximise the use of school grounds.

School News looks at both creative and more traditional outdoor furniture ideas to help you create stimulating, relaxing and creative learning spaces in and around your school. Furthermore, a dedicated outdoor area with the addition of protection from the elements provides an ideal learning environment for hands-on lessons, especially conducive to messy art projects.

Top tips

Think carefully about the design and layout of your outdoor spaces and get advice from specialised suppliers and why not include your students.

Create some comfy meeting points to encourage your students to communicate and form relationships, use a variety benches, seating and equipment to construct gathering places for learning, playing or relaxing.

Consider furniture that has a dual purpose. Ask, can it be also used for outdoor dining or to encourage social engagement? Or choose specialised seating arrangements that include items such as bike racks.

Remember to provide a variety shapes and sizes of outdoor seating around the library, outdoor cafeterias, galleries, amphitheatres and any other spaces that students use.

Creativity flourishes in creative spaces: dare to be different.

Safety must also be a priority. Your furniture choices must be sturdy and durable, consider the amount of use, the weather conditions and make sure your supplier offers quality options that are built to last.

Maintenance is important. Find out how to care for your furniture and take that into account.

Installation: does your furniture need to be cemented into the ground or bracketed to a wall?

Graffiti: can it be easily removed from your chosen furniture?

We think that perfect outdoor furniture for educational premises is only limited by budget and lack of creativity.

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