Outdoor Learning Experiences

Supporting learning and engagement with the natural environment for all ages

Tag: #school visits

Why Open Farm Sunday?

Open Farm Sunday 2016

Farming is the industry that produces much of our food, and the land on which food is produced is very visible to the public, as we drive by on roads or walk through the countryside. However, the opportunity to see or speak to the farmer, who is the manager of the food production business, is less common. Yet what comes from the farm impacts on our view of the countryside, what we eat, and the local ecology, land use and wider environment.

Open Farm Sunday provides the opportunity to speak to farmers. It is scheduled for the time of year when farms are full of arable crops and livestock (including calves and lambs) but before farmers are busy with harvesting. It’s a chance to meet farmers, hear from them, ask questions, and engage in discussion and debate about what they do and why they do it.

It’s also a chance for farmers to present a realistic view of what farming is all about these days. It’s not all about old men with straw in their hair: farmers can be women as well as men, and young too!

Modern farming is high tech, environmentally aware, caring about the soil, animal welfare and ecology, while also providing food for customers. Farmers are also custodians of miles of public access footpaths and bridleways which provide the opportunity for anyone to get out and take a walk in nature.

Open Farm Sunday has been running for more than 10 years now. On one Sunday, farmers across the country open their gates and invite the public in to find out more about what they do on a daily basis. Events vary, from farm walks to larger events with multiple activities. This year, there will be a range of activities to explain some of the science in farming.

For teachers and schools, Open Farm School days offers the opportunity for a farm visit for a whole class on a school day. If you are a teacher whole is wondering about farm visits, Open Farm Sunday can be a good opportunity to check out a farm visit yourself, prior to arranging to bring the children along.

To find a farm near you, go to https://farmsunday.org/  It promises to be a great day out!

The best season for farm visits and other outdoor learning is coming up!

FH3324The best season for farm visits and other outdoor learning is coming up. From May- early July, crops are well established, and it’s easy to distinguish between wheat, oats and barley. Livestock which have been over-wintered in barns are back out in field. And crucially for school trips – its warmer!

Research on outdoor learning indicates that it is stimulating and memorable. Children are inspired and excited by the new setting, the chance to touch, see, smell, hear –  and take part in – activities.

A field trip is more than a day out. It’s a chance to link all that hard work in the classroom with the deal world, to fit learning into its wider context, and to show its relevance to life beyond the books and school gates. The best outdoor fieldtrips are embedded within classroom learning, and this allows teachers and children to get the most out of the event.

Trips can provide an inspiring way to

-kick start a topic, which is then followed up in the classroom

-develop a topic. Some preparatory work prior to the trip builds up children’s knowledge, so they can get the most out of the learning opportunities offered by the trip, and learning is further developed back in the classroom after the trip

-celebrate the completion of a topic a trip can illustrate how all the theory and classroom learning can be put into practice.

Now is the time to start planning. Look on the Countryside Classroom, FACE, LEAF, or Natural England websites to search for farmers near you that host groups of school children. Book your date now before they get too busy.

Plan – while there is plenty to learn from a farm visit, it’s helpful if teachers can suggest to the farmer what topics or aspects of food, farming or the landscape will connect with what the children have been doing in the classroom. But don’t be too close-minded: be prepared to be inspired, to see links to learning in unexpected ways. The diagram on the Outdoor learning experiences home page of a tractor and curriculum links, from FACE, shows so many possibilities for learning on a farm.