How can the changing seasons inspire learning? Can celebrating our local landscapes and exploring nearby streets enrich our children’s life and lessons? Could the seasons inspire new attitudes to learning that are responsive to what children themselves discover in places nearby?
Common Ground is working with several state primary schools in Dorset and Somerset to explore how seasonal change and celebration can inspire the daily learning experiences of children. A nearby river or copse, trees in the playground or nearby park, a street-side hedge, a community orchard, old and new buildings in the high street: tuning into these places and returning to see how they change through the seasons can inspire different kinds of lessons, nourishing the national curriculum with outdoor learning activities rooted to the local environment.
By returning throughout the year to host a variety of creative and outdoor workshops, our ‘seasonal residency’ encourages children and teachers to become more familiar with nearby landscapes and wildlife, by making maps and calendars, by walking, telling stories, writing poems and songs. We also help shape these seasonal experiences and expressions into celebrations unique to each school, moments of the year which reflect the particular wildlife, oral history, architecture and cultural heritage of their local area, as well as expressing the childrens’ own intellectual, artistic and emotional connections with it.
With the help of teachers, parents and children from schools in Dorset and Somerset, Common Ground are collecting lots of exciting ideas that will help reconnect children with nature and bring seasonality into the classroom. What we learn with these schools is helping us create inspirational and practical examples that will be used to demonstrate the project nationwide. In time, we would like the idea of a ‘Seasonal School’ to become a proud expression of a school’s identity. ‘We are a Seasonal School’ could be a way of explaining how a school draws inspiration from seasonal change and embraces the nearby landscapes, the rivers, orchards, parks, allotments and streets as an extension of the classroom. In this way, the seasons begin to shape a long-term teaching philosophy that draws from the school’s immediate surroundings and responds to what the children themselves discover from the near-places outside the school gates and fences.
Seasonal Schools is being developed with Martin Maudsley, an ecologist and storyteller based in Dorset.
A new feature film
Learning through the seasons
A new exhibition of calendars & almanacs