We are vey fortunate to have a wonderful outdoor learning area that is used by all children from Nursery to Year 6. Classes have timetabled sessions over the year with our Outdoor Learning Leader, Mrs Sweeney. At Rolph we recognise the importance of a curriculum that is rich with opportunities both inside and outside of the classroom which enables all children to thrive. We also want our children to learn about the world around them through meaningful first hand experiences and to care for God’s creations for future generations to come.

Please explore this page to discover more about our outdoor learning provision at Rolph.

Year 4 children have been learning weaving techniques.  They have learnt that the Romans used weaving to create cloth and clothing.


In the mud kitchen, the children attempted to create “mud paint”.  The mud had to be thick and smooth; it required a lot of stirring!


The children used paint card samples to identify different shades in the woodland.

A few children experimented with making mud faces and hand prints on the trees.  Over the coming weeks we will work on improving the mud faces!  Visit again to see the progress.

29.9.21 During today’s session, some year 4 children noticed sap coming from a tree.

Most children attempted the Japanese art of Hapa-zome, which literally means leaf dye.  They placed leaves and berries between two pieces of cotton and pounded it with a mini-mallet.


Year 4 also created miniature dens for log people, some children chose to work in a group, while others worked independently.  One group decided to base their den on the design of a Roman Round House, which they learnt about at Colchester castle.


The mud kitchen was a popular location this week, a great Sushi mud meal was made using blackberries.

A group of children played hide the stone, guiding each other to the hidden stone using the words hotter or colder.  During our woodland sessions, children are encouraged to be creative and experiment – this leaf face was stuck to a tree using a mixture of mud and water.  What a masterpiece!

7.10.21 Today year 4 enjoyed exploring den building.  The children chose to work in teams to create their dens.  Some groups decorated their dens with the Hapa zome created last week, others used wool from the weaving station.  The children asked to carpet their dens.  We began to learn knots that could be used to secure paracord to trees.  One group even improvised using twigs as tent pegs.


The children were also allowed to attempt tree climbing.  We set up an agreement that only one person was allowed to climb a tree at a time and chose 2 trees in the woodlands that the children were allowed to climb.  These trees are the safest due to their structure and the woodland floor condition surrounding the trees.  For some children this was the first attempt at climbing a tree.

Other activities that were included today were weaving, the mud kitchen, mini-den building and mini-beast hunting.

14.10.21  Today we began our session with some outdoor learning for Science.  This week in class the children have been learning about Invertebrates and working out how to identify them.  What a fantastic location to put that learning into action! The children carefully looked in different habitats for mini-beasts and then used an identification key to identify what they had found.


Once the children had completed their science work, they were introduced to the joys of rope and hammocks.  Mrs Sweeney worked with groups of children to put up a rope swing and a hammock.


A group of children worked together to make a den.  They wanted to find a way to decorate their den!  Mrs Sweeney taught them how they could make a God’s eye.  God’s eyes originally came from the Huichol people of Central Mexico.  They were created as protective and spiritual symbols that helped them to connect more deeply to the natural world.  The children picked up on the technique very quickly, commenting how they felt it was a therapeutic and calming thing to make.

Others enjoyed climbing trees this week.   At the end of today’s session, the children reflected on their adventures and made suggestions about what they would like to attempt next week.  Charlie suggested he would like to experiment to see if he could make a den above the hammock.  Have a look next week to see if the children are able to work out a design!


Year 4 had an exciting morning taking part in forest school activities. They noticed the drop in temperature, it was rather chilly in the woodland. After learning about the changes of the site over time, the children had a go at whittling a stick using a vegetable peeler.  They learnt about the correct position to be in to keep themselves safe and had to wear a special glove on their non-working hand.

Once the sticks were whittled, the children had their first forest school camp fire, where they toasted marshmallows and created smores.

A group of children did create a shelter over the hammock, a challenge they set last week.  Unfortunately, Mrs Sweeney was not able to photograph their creation as she was concentrating on those who were using peelers to whittle.  We will recreate their design after the half term, making improvements and share photographs with you then!


It was fantastic to have year 4 back in the woodlands today.  Today some of the children made a God’s eye for remembrance day.  I was particularly impressed that a couple of children had remembered how to do this and managed it independently. Once they had completed theirs, they supported others to make a God’s eye poppy.


While making the God’s eyes, the children were devising a plan to make a Rudolf version, using the sticks as antlers.  So watch this space for some new designs in the coming weeks!

Today also saw a range of bug hotels being build and some natural dens.  The mud developed into sculpture, the children discovered that if they got the mud to the right consistency they could use it like clay.  We had some wonderful hedgehogs and donuts!


Some children also enjoyed the rope swing and hammock today.  There was some amazing team work today.  It is amazing to see the children developing their skills and confidence in the woods.

18.11.21 – Today some children used a bow saw and palm drills to cut and drill wood cookies to make Christmas decorations in preparation for the Thorpe festival.  Others chose to weave Christmas tree decorations, while some created mud sculptures.

25.11.21 Today some children chose to make more wood cookies, while others chose to make bows and arrows.  First the children had to select their piece of willow and cut it using the loppers. The children shaped the willow for their bow, they had to be careful to bend the willow slowly so that it did not snap.  They used the clove hitch knot to secure their string.  Once the bows were made the children enjoyed experimenting with different lengths and weights of arrows.