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25/09/2021

WATCH: Outdoor class is a breath of fresh air for Limerick pupils

“I’VE got water in my welly! Did you bring spare socks?”

The conversation between two little girls dressed in pink rain gear took place in the polytunnel at the back of Martinstown NS at 10am last Friday.

The county Limerick school is fortunate to have a school garden onsite and over the past year they have developed it further into an outdoor classroom.

To celebrate Outdoor Classroom Day on Thursday, May 20 – a global movement to encourage children to play and learn outdoors - the staff and pupils headed to the great outdoors - not on Thursday however, as the weather was too wet but on Friday morning when there was just a fresh breeze.

While on Friday it was the turn of the junior and senior infants to get close to Mother Nature, the facility is there for all classes to access.

The outdoor classroom boasts a wonderful seating area for story time, circle time and of course lunch times.

“The children utilise a polytunnel for planting and growing fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables,” explained Lisa Kirby, deputy principal and teacher.

The children create imaginative spaces and games using open-ended materials such as tyres, wooden planks, blocks, and palettes.

There is lots of exploration and creations made in the mud kitchen and tuff trays.

Two free-standing baths have a new life as a bedded garden and fairy garden.

“The children are given lots of opportunity to explore the garden freely which encourages the development of many skills such teamwork, cooperation, imagination, confidence and problem solving,” continued Ms Kirby who was accompanied in the garden by Claire Whelan, SNA, and Jack Kennedy - a supply teacher from Kilmallock school.

The teachers and SNAs organise activities that supplement the curriculum further in subjects such as numeracy, literacy, art and SESE.

“The outdoor learning environment allows children the scope and independence to develop their own abilities and interests,” added Ms Kirby.

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