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Outdoor education, Mental Health, Food and Nutrition, Body Care and Physical Safety


This online version of the book 'In the Outdoors', one of the series The Curriculum in Action, supports the implementation of Health and Physical Education in the New Zealand Curriculum (1999) by providing teachers with ideas for planning units of work to meet the identified learning needs of their year 7–8 students.

The book establishes clear links between the key areas of learning Outdoor Education, Mental Health, Food and Nutrition, and Body Care and Physical Safety. It demonstrates ways that these can be taught together, within the context of outdoor education, to reinforce learning, to encourage critical action, and to provide opportunities for deeper learning.

Where appropriate, learning activities are also linked to the aims of Guidelines for Environmental Education in New Zealand Schools. These guidelines illustrate ways in which environmental education can be integrated with learning activities across the curriculum. Notes alongside the learning experiences outlined in In the Outdoors indicate ways in which students' understanding of key concepts and key dimensions of environmental education can be developed as part of programmes based on Health and Physical Education in the New Zealand Curriculum (1999).

Although the learning experiences present a teaching sequence, teachers are not expected to implement all the suggested activities or necessarily to follow the sequence suggested. To meet the learning needs of their students, teachers may use all or parts of this book over a two-year cycle and may also select activities from other resources.

Why provide opportunities for learning in the outdoors?

Being in the outdoors enables each of us to make connections to the environment. This can ground us, enhancing our sense of self and our sense of place. Teachers can work collaboratively across key areas of learning, identifying appropriate links between their programmes to ensure that their students gain maximum enjoyment, fulfilment, and learning from outdoor experiences.

Learning in the outdoors enhances students' understandings of interdependence and of the relationships between all living things, including people, and their physical environment. The concept of interdependence is also reflected in the Māori world view. Māori regard themselves as a product of the union of Ranginui, the Sky Father, and Papatūānuku, the Earth Mother. The Māori word "whenua", which means both "land" and "placenta", provides an example of this link between people and land. Māori belong to the land as tangata whenua, the people of the land. All things are united through mauri, the life force.

Outdoor activities provide opportunities for students to increase their understanding of themselves, for example, when they transfer previously learned skills and use them in meaningful situations. Education in the outdoors involves searching out resources, exploring ideas, applying experience, gathering information for decision making and problem solving, using critical-thinking skills, and taking critical action.

Within a given context, students can set short-term goals and go on to plan and carry out tasks as a group, making wise use of resources, exploring options, and managing situations independently. Through working together, students develop teamwork skills, practice conflict resolution, and come to accept differences. They learn how to trust and care for themselves and others as they contribute to common tasks. Students have opportunities to develop leadership skills, help set group goals, identify their own competencies, and discover that more can be achieved when people work together. They can take responsibility for meeting deadlines and make tasks more manageable by dividing them into steps or parts.

Carefully constructed outdoor learning experiences can help students to develop a sense of fairness, to respect people's property, and to become aware of differences in values. They can learn how to express their own feelings appropriately and to respond appropriately towards others when they express their feelings. Outdoor contexts for learning can provide opportunities for students to take an active part in enjoyable physical exercise, using health-enhancing practices, identifying dangerous situations, and taking positive action where necessary.

The learning activities in this resource will require time to complete. They focus on the school grounds or nearby – few are specifically based on a school camp. However, the knowledge, abilities, and attitudes acquired through the suggested learning experiences are transferable to working in a range of situations.

Linking to Curriculum
Key concepts
Planning considerations
Learning outcomes
Possible learning experiences
References, resources and contacts