Outdoor Learning – We Are Computers

Outdoor learning in computing can be great fun. The kids will have thousands of lessons sat in front of a computer, but I guarantee they’ll remember the time you took them outside and turned them into computers!

For my lesson this week I took my year 3 group out on to the muddy field, to explore under the autumnal trees. The sun was shining, it wasn’t too cold, and we had our boots on! For our first task I turned the children into computers who needed to do a sorting task. They had to collect a bunch of leaves and, deciding how for themselves, had to think of ways to categorise them. For the most part they stuck to three methods; size, type and colour. This was great, and the kids really got into it. The hard part was keeping the piles of leaves in place with the blustery winds! As they were working we were talking about how they were similar to computers, and about why a computer likes things sorted all neat and tidy.

We managed to fit in a second activity while we were out there too. I got the kids on the small stone patio, and  asked them to collect as many little bits and bobs as possible, putting them in a great big pile in front of them. The week previously we had been working with Scratch looking at the different control loops. We talked about how computers and programmers like to find patterns to make the processes work quicker and neater, and how we can put them in their work to make it more efficient. With the random assortment of leaves, sticks, stones and grass in front of them I asked them to make repeating patterns on the floor. The kids loved this one, and every single child was completely engaged in the process, even the usual pain in the bum kids! Once they had made a pattern I blew the whistle (Outdoor Learning essential!) and asked them to add another step to it, inserting the right item in the right place. We finished off by asking the pairs to swap places, and to try and identify the pattern. This little plenary was cool, because it meant the kids were showing me they understood, and could read the patterns.

I honesty had as much fun as the kids on this one. Plus, we have a really gorgeous DSLr camera in school, and I’d let it go away for a week on the London residential. After getting it back I was itching to play with it again, and the lighting for this lesson was perfect. Some great snaps so please have a look here for some more.

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