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Bring the outside in

Inspired Building Systems offers five tips to connect learning with the outdoors

Posted by Stephanie Broad | October 23, 2015 | Teaching

“Bringing the outdoors in’ is a concept that people may find either difficult, unnecessary or unappealing. However, so much inspiration can be drawn from the outdoors, from colours and shapes to materials - they can all be used to model the inside of any classroom, anywhere," explains Gavin Wilkes, director at Inspired Building Systems.

"In particular, there really is no excuse in eco classrooms, as they're already so connected and integrated into the environment and the outdoors".

Changing the atmosphere you teach in and, most importantly, your pupils learn in can have a profound effect. 

So, how can you link your classroom to its surroundings? Here are Gavin's top five tips to help you draw inspiration from mother nature that are as easy as 123. 

  • Bring plants indoors - This is an easy, effortless way to bring nature into a classroom, as well as a quick spot of interior decorating. From cut flowers to leafy plants, it makes a world of difference. Plants also improve the air quality, so it will be doing everyone a favour!

  • Grow your own - Try growing indoor plants from seeds or shoots. Anything from small, pretty primroses to unusual plants like bamboo - there are thousands of choices out there. This can also benefit children by teaching them to take care of something, and allocating a little bit of responsibility to groups in classes can be a great exercise or competition.

  • Encourage natural light - Like some other buildings and classrooms, eco classrooms have very large glass windows, some stretching from floor to ceiling which allows bright, natural light to stream in, thus reducing the need for too much artificial light and energy. If a classroom doesn't already have large windows, try making sure that the blinds or curtains are open wide, take any obstruction off the windows and ensure that large pieces of light blocking furniture aren't in the way.

  • Light walls reflect light - Brighter, lighter walls will work alongside the natural light to brighten and illuminate a classroom, giving the effect that you are in fact outside! Paint entire walls, or if that is a little too much work, simply paint images on the walls - from flowers and trees to butterflies and bees - the opportunities are endless.

  • Introduce wood as furniture - Eco classrooms are typically wooden on the outside, as they are clad in cedar, so they are quite literally made of the outdoors. However, introducing more wood into a classroom in the form of rustic benches, tables or even small trees really helps to add to the natural, outdoorsy atmosphere of a classroom.

The school grounds can provide a perfect opportunity to 'grow your own'

"These are just some of many methods that you can use to help bring the outdoors into your classroom, but the possibilities are truly endless, from small scale to large, drastic changes, and many options at very low costs, there are simply no excuses!" Gavin Wilkes said.

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