Outdoor Classroom Stories: Subiaco Primary School, WA

6th October 2021

Subiaco Primary School is an Independent primary school which caters for students from Kindergarten to Year 6. We have a strong sense of community at Subiaco Primary School where staff work together with parents as well as members of the community to reach common goals for our students. We have excellent connections to the Subiaco community through our weekly Farmers Markets which are held on Saturday mornings as well as the swimming pool which is available to the community through a yearly membership. We are surrounded by beautiful nature landscapes and have generous play spaces for our students to play within.

Outdoor Play and Learning
At Subiaco Primary School, our Kindergarten and Pre Primary classes provide our students with daily/multiple opportunities to engage in outdoor play and learning experiences. Our outdoor play areas are designed to inspire creativity and imagination, develop muscle strength and coordination, increase flexibility and fine and gross motor skills as well as physical skills relating to different types of sports, such as cricket, football, tennis and soccer. Toys that require balance and coordination, such as bikes, scooters and wobble boards are also provided. In our large sandpit play areas, we have established loose parts play where assorted pipes, tubes, cable reels, hoses etc of different sizes and weights are provided for the students to use however they choose. We also have a fantastic ‘wet’ nature area which consists of a mud kitchen, climbing ropes and a hand pump which is connected to a running tap and allows water to flow through a trough and down into a small dug out tunnel which the students often dig themselves. Our teaching staff also ensure that we provide calm spaces for those students requiring some quiet time as well as opportunities for further creative activities, such as crafts, musical instruments, imaginative play as well as dress ups. Sustainability is a large focus at our school and in our Pre Primary classrooms, we encourage our students to explore and to learn from the environments around them. Our Early Childhood Teachers involve our students in the establishment and maintenance of our edible gardens and fruit trees, planting of seeds and propagating natural Australian plants as well as our worm farms and compost pits. This year, we have introduced a new waste management system where we are educating our students to reduce the amount of rubbish which is sent to landfill. We have a bin for food scraps which is added to our compost pit, a recycling bin for items which can be recycled, a green bin for gardening waste as well as a general rubbish bin for items which can not be reused or recycled. Our students can often be found engaging in weeding or other gardening activities during their outdoor play at recess and lunch times.

Why Subiaco Primary School supports Outdoor Classroom Day
Outdoor Classroom Day was established to promote the benefits of providing regular opportunities for students to learn, play and to be inspired by the wider outside world around them. It is also aimed at inspiring teachers to make outdoor lessons a regular part of every school day and celebrating all the ways that children can and should learn outdoors. Outdoor Classroom Day also recognises and values the importance of providing numerous uninterrupted periods of play outside for children where they are encouraged to explore, discover, use their imagination, strengthen friendships and learn through hands on learning and manipulation.

We strongly believe that our students are naturally drawn to playing and learning outside the classroom supports the development of healthy and active lifestyles by providing children with opportunities for freedom, movement, physical activity  and promoting a sense of well-being. As Early Childhood teachers, we acknowledge the importance of play in assisting our students to develop critical life skills such as resilience, problem solving, being resourceful, team work, creativity, communication and that it is also central to our students enjoyment of their childhood. We also believe that whatever children can be taught inside the classroom can be transferred to outdoors learning. When we first heard about Outside Classroom Day, we were inspired to participate as, although we often spend time outside, we had never dedicated a whole day to outside playing, exploration and learning. We thought that this would be a great opportunity to expose the students to different ways that they could learn and play outside and we were also interested to see the effects it could have on our students motivation and willingness to have a go and try new things which they may not have necessarily had the opportunity to try before, such as whittling sticks, making nature mandalas and pressing flowers. We also wanted to provide our students with further opportunities to strengthen their connections to nature, experience seasonal changes and to work collaboratively alongside of their peers to initiate play, solve problems, make discoveries and to share their knowledge and understandings with others.

Learning experiences shared with students
Over the past two Outdoor Classroom Days that we have participated in we have provided the following experiences:

  • flower pressing and flower smashing (using rocks to transfer colours from flowers/leaves onto materials)
  • stick whittling
  • mud, water and ice play
  • nature drawings using charcoal
  • making transient art using resources collected from our environments, such as shells, rocks, feathers, leaves, sticks, gum-nuts, stones, flowers etc (mandalas and other pictures)
  • construction and craft activities (including chalk activities)
  • sustainability: planting and gardening activities
  • cubby making
  • yarn bombing trees
  • weaving through our fences
  • practising writing our sight words in sand using sticks
  • practising writing our numbers using buckets of water and paintbrushes
  • sponge relays (transferring water from one bucket to another)
  • we read the story ‘Stick Man’ and then collected our own materials from the environment to make our own stick men to take home
  • sandcastle building using assorted size/shaped containers
  • reading stories outside
  • dress ups and imaginary role play toys in our cubby house


Taking students outside for learning
I often take my students outside daily for some form of learning, whether it be reading a story underneath the shade or letting my students sit on the grass outside in the sunshine for our news telling opportunities. My students and I also enjoy participating in STEAM challenges outside on a weekly basis, with our favourite outdoor challenges being making/testing paper airplanes, making bubble wands and blowing bubbles as well as measuring how far a pom pom can travel using the pom pom shooters we made using cut up pool noodles and balloons. Conducting STEAM experiences outdoors allows my students to play, move, discover, learn, explore and to discuss and share their learning and understandings with each other in a relaxed and open environment. I also utilise learning opportunities outside of my classroom every day by displaying a question of the day outside of my door which students are encouraged to answer before entering the classroom. After recess has finished, my class then remains outside for an additional 15-20 minutes where we interpret the results we have collected based on the question, do our daily calendar routines (day/date/month- songs to accompany these concepts) and then I will often use the space available to introduce/revisit our maths concepts, such as making/identifying patterns and looking for 2d and 3d shapes in our environments. All Pre-Primary classes also utilise the spaces outside of our classrooms by opening up our doors and allowing our students to free flow between indoor and outdoor play where we set up different experiences for them such as blocks, arts and craft, water play and other sensory activities.

Subiaco PS lr: Sam Levitzke, Alfred Schwarzbach, Max Bogle, Archie Bogle
photo credit Anna Pretorius Photography

Benefits of outdoor learning opportunities for children
Learning: When I take my learning outside I notice that my students:

  • are more engaged and willing to try new things and to participate in partner, small group and whole class learning experiences, especially if there is movement involved
  • engage more with nature (sensory components)by running their hands/feet over the top of the grass as they are listening to others talk (improves concentration- some students need to fidget when sitting for periods of time -develop a greater understanding of their voice levels when speaking to each other as part of a group (know to adjust for sounds/unexpected noises and to project loud enough to ensure that everyone can hear them) Leads to more spontaneous and child initiated conversations about the world around them (they might notice a bird/insect and ask questions about these which leads to students sharing what they already know, identifying what they would like to know and everybody working together as a team to find this information out
  • find it easier to initiate and participate in conversations with a greater number of their peers

Behaviour: When I take my learning outside I notice that my students:

  • are generally better behaved and seem happy to be engaging in outdoor learning
  • have the opportunity to release any pent up energy from not moving too much and delight in joining in with movement games and activities
  • feel more motivated, are engaged and willing to have a go and take risks within their play and their learning
  • display greater concentration and are able to play/stay in one area for a greater length of time
  • quieter students started off initially observing experiences but are now actively joining in and making contributions (improvement in confidence)
  • increase in problem solving and self help skills (able to retrieve, set up toys/equipment they would like to play with and pack equipment away at the end of play times)
  • display a sense of wonder and excitement when they are actively engaging with their environments

Participation in team work
When I take my learning outside I notice that my students:

  • They are able to effectively communicate their ideas and thought processes behind what they are doing to their peers as well as their teachers and often discuss why they may be doing it this way (e.g. balancing a piece of ply wood on top of two cable reels to build a table to hold bowls of sand). At times they may become frustrated when their ideas have not worked the first time, but this does not stop them from applying a trial and error approach to keep going and finding solutions to the questions which they have.
  • Often have big ideas like moving the big cube blocks and balance beams to create an even bigger obstacle course where a group of children will come together to plan, design, gather materials, apply trial and error to see how it works and to make adjustments if something is not right. They take turns, are beginning to listen to each other’s ideas and are often negotiating the roles which they play in this planning
  • We often see some ingenious and very creative ways that our students attempt to solve problems within their play like one group of students who used the loose parts from the sandpit (pipes and hosing) to transfer water from the water trolley to the sandpit by connecting the pipes and hosing together, positioning where they wanted it in the sand pit and pouring the water through the top. These students did this for 20 minutes without taking a break!

At Subiaco Primary School, we feel very lucky to have an amazing outdoor play environment right outside of our classroom doors that provides places for our students to explore, experiment, discover, be active, healthy and to develop their physical capabilities. -We have fantastic staff who acknowledges the importance of playful learning and meaningful play within our teaching programs and we strive to provide learning and play opportunities based on our children’s interests, abilities and experiences.  -Our staff often facilitate outdoor learning during free play times through involving/including our students in our sustainability projects as well as providing music and movement activities, such as dance where we join in with the students and experiment with dance moves and sequences of actions. -For many children, playing outdoors at school may be the only opportunity which they have to play freely and take safe risks within their play. -Learning outside of the classroom provides students with opportunities to connect with nature and experience different weather/seasonal experiences.

Story shared with us by Cassandra Waghela

The Outdoor Classroom Day Team would like to thank Subiaco Primary School for sharing their story with us.  



If you’ve previously taken part in Outdoor Classroom Day, you’ve probably got some great stories to share – and we’d love to hear them!
To be featured in our Outdoor Classroom Story section on our website, please tell us a bit more about your school, and your participation in previous Outdoor Classroom Day campaigns.








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Wohoo! Top marks for signing up!

Thanks for joining the movement, we can’t wait to see what you get up to on the day! Please share this with your colleagues and friends to help us make it possible for every child to get outdoors to learn and play every day 🙂

Thank you for supporting Outdoor Classroom Day!

We’ll send you a newsletter shortly, but in the meantime why not print out this poster and take it to a teacher you know…?

Time to play is critical for every child – share your moments with us by tagging #OutdoorClassroomDay and make every day a day to learn and play outdoors!