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Welcome to part two of the Smarter Spaces 'How to' series, bringing you a range of top tips on how you can make simple additions to your learning environment, which can make a huge difference to your learners. In this second guide, we'll be telling you how you can open up your classroom to the power of nature and bring the best of the great outdoors into your school!


paint, varnish or stain

Pot your own plants to find out more about their life cycle

Potting plants provides a fun and easy way of teaching learners about the life cycle of plants, as well as giving them lessons on taking responsibility for other living things. And as an added bonus, they bring a splash of colour into the classroom!

Be the next Bill Oddie!

Bird watching can be an exciting way to learn more about the visitors to your school. You can set up a bird watching day and ask classes to take it in turns to log and identify the birds that land in your school grounds over the course of the day. Learners can also get involved by making fat balls for the birds.

Become a meteorologist!

Setting up your own weather station is a great way of getting learners to think about the natural world as well as teaching maths and science skills. You can buy equipment online or get creative using everyday objects like containers to measure rainfall and wind. Check out the Met Office which has instructions for building your own weather station.

Take a closer look into what's outside

Stop your school microscope from gathering dust by using it to take a closer look at natural objects like leaves and insects you find around the school and local area.

Care for some creepy crawlies

Insects don't have to be scary! Butterfly cages can be a great way to show learners how caterpillars transform into butterflies and bring some beautifully bright colours into your classroom. You can also use National Insect Week to bring worm and ant farms for your class to take care of.

Let imaginations run wild in a rainforest by playing soothing sounds

Playing nature sounds like rainfall or crashing waves can be a great way of keeping your class calm and focused. Alternatively, you can play rainforest or thunderstorm sounds to help inspire written work or drama pieces.

Grow your own grub

Whether it’s growing cress on kitchen paper or growing an apple tree, planting your own fruit and vegetables is a great way to learn about nature. Schools with space to spare can set up their own vegetable patches, while all you need for tomatoes is a grow bag and cress can be grown on a paper towel! If you grow enough and are enterprising you can even sell your produce to raise extra school funds! The Royal Horticultural Society offer great tips on how to bring gardening to your school.

Paint some patterns that appear in nature

Ask your learners to create artwork incorporating natural patterns and create an inspiring nature display board with them. Spiders' webs, snowflakes, butterflies, sunflower heads and honeycombs are all great examples of patterns in nature which they can use for inspiration.

Create a buzz

The smallest spaces can be used to keep bees and who doesn't want some lovely honey? It's easier than you think to keep bees - lots of schools now keep them on their roofs and the set up costs needn't cost the earth. Get in touch with the British Bee Keepers Association for some top tips on how to do this.

Set up a nature library

Decorate a corner of your classroom using a nature and outdoors theme to inspire your learners to find out more about the world around them. Fill it with books and signposts to local nature spots and wildlife around the school to bring their learning to life.

Stay tuned for more top tips as next week we'll reveal easy ways to redecorate your classroom using things in your stationary cupboard!