Outdoor Education

The Whole School Approach to Outdoor Learning at Shortlees Primary School.

Please click on the link below to view our Outdoor Learning journey.


Plant a Tree for 50p!

Last week we had a stall at the Fairtrade Fayre, where we took names of people who would like to ‘Plant a tree for 50p’.

This afternoon, pupils were collected from classes, to choose a tree to plant in the school grounds.

Primary 5A also took part in our Outdoor Learning today, as there were lots of other jobs/activities to do as well as tree planting.

We would like to thank everyone who donated 50p- we raised £25, which will be used to buy compost for seed planting.

Thanks, to Gracie for the notes, Bryoni for the photos and Mr Shaw for planning the activities.

Planting Preparations

There were lots of jobs to do this afternoon so we were really busy.

We have:

  • Prepared the tyres in the vegetable patch for planting.
  • Cleared large stones from the same area.
  • Added another layer to the composter.
  • Planted herbs in the herb spiral.
  • Potted some lavender and grasses in tubs, which are now in the Mushroom Garden.
  • Picked up litter.
  • Planted ‘tatties’!

We hope to plant more vegetables next time, now that these preparations have been done.

Thanks to Cerys for the notes and Annette for the photos.

Thanks to Mr Shaw for his invaluable help.

Composters/Creating New Play Areas

Storm Doris had died out by lunchtime, so pupils of P7S were able to continue working on their outdoor learning activities, as planned.

One half worked with Mr Shaw, creating new adventure/play areas by moving tyres and palettes to designated spots in the playground.

The other half continued working on the composters, which were built last week. Layers of waste food, cardboard then compost were added, then holes were made with a fork to aerate the soil.

Thanks to Kaine for the photos and Lewis for the notes.

ECO Art Club

Mrs McCulloch and the pupils have been utilising the outdoors to create some fabulous art projects.

Mat weaving: We used hula hoops as a frame and cut up T-shirts to use as a weaving material.  We ended up with a mat that can be used in the playground for the smaller children to sit on in the summer months.

Planting: We collected tin cans, painted them and drilled drainage holes.  These were then planted with ivy and mini daffodils and secured to the fence at the entrance to the school.

Tree Art: We brightened up our winter months by simple yarn bombing of some of our trees.  We used wool this time but may use other recyclable material in future.

Candle holders: One of the trees in the grounds was blown over in the last storm and could not be saved.  We collected the branches, dried and cut them, to use to decorate glasses and sold them at the Christmas Fayre as candle holders.

Plastic Flowers: We have collected plastic bottles to make tree mobiles and flowers to add to our outdoor projects in the near future.  Watch this space…

Making Composters

Thanks to Annette for the photos and Aaliyah for the notes.

Pupils of P7S were excited to begin the next phase of Outdoor Learning activities, starting with making their own composters.

Mr Shaw led the activities, demonstrating how to build the composters then fill them up with layers of compost, food waste and cardboard.

The class was split into three teams, with each successfully building its own composter in a suitable area of the school grounds.

The plan is to keep adding layers to the composters, which will eventually produce our own compost, making us more self-sufficient.

Welly Walk

We have been utilising our local area with regular visits to the Caprington Woods. On todays visit we discovered a secret wall, witches house, an abandoned well and a wee cup-a-soup with the Kelly Kettle to get the creative juices flowing! Never ceases to amaze me how imaginative and engaged with their environment the pupils are when we come on these walks!

Wild about Scotland Bus

Pupils from p3 enjoyed their experience aboard the bus learning all about beavers in Scotland.

TCV (The Conservation Volunteers) Week 10

Theme- Woodland Adventure (Thanks to Amy for the notes and Isla for the photos)

As it was our last week with Jenny, Mr Davidson led us on a walk to nearby woods. He walked so fast that he nearly lost Jenny and Mrs Sloan several times. If it hadn’t been for Sean’s guidance, he might have succeeded!

Trekking through the woods we talked about trees, seeds and ladybirds. We came across a random wall and huge tree, before going down a really steep slope. Teamwork ensured that we all got down safely.

We found the perfect place for snack- Jenny brought mats for us to sit on, then organised games for us. One of them was similar to Hide and Seek, except you had to be able to see what action the teachers were doing without being seen yourself. On the second go, almost everyone got it right!

We’d like to thank Jenny for her hard work and enthusiasm over the last ten very enjoyable weeks and we hope to see her again in the future.

TCV (The Conservation Volunteers) Week 9

Theme- Being Creative (Thanks to Ben Steel for the notes and Mathew McMurdo for the photos)

After playing a game of touching something dead, alive or used to be alive, Sophie McCormick, Lewis and Gracie delivered detailed tool talks to the class.

Mr White joined us today and observed as we split into three groups and rotated round three activities during the course of the afternoon.

Activity 1 – Working on the herb spiral

Activity 2 – Digging in the mushroom garden

Activity 3- Arts/Crafts- Making a God’s Eye

We are delighted to say that the herb spiral is now complete and we look forward to adding more herbs to other areas of the mushroom garden.

Well done to Carly, who took her God’s Eye home and completed it. It is now on display on the Well Done board in class.

TCV (The Conservation Volunteers) Week 8

Theme- Herbs (Thanks to Gracie for the photos and Lewis for the notes).

Work continued on clearing the muddy area of the mushroom garden- we’ll finish this at a later date.

Jenny and a small group began creating a spiral herb garden, which really took shape during the course of the afternoon.

Lots of stones for it were from the base of the raised bed in the skipping area, which is now empty and ready to be relocated in the mushroom garden.

Even though we all wore waterproofs we were still covered in mud, some more than others!

Mr Davidson worked away with a smile on his face as his badminton team had won a tournament earlier in the day- well done to all involved.

TCV (The Conservation Volunteers) Week 7

This week looked at compost and we were extremely lucky to be provided with a new composter by TCV as part of our Food for Thought project .Thanks to Sean for the notes and Sophie McGilvary for the photos.

We started by playing a game we like, which demonstrates soil drainage. Then we played the Yes/No game to show whether various items are degradable or not. Jenny was impressed with our knowledge of the subject.

‘Worm charming’ was next- some of us managed to charm a few good ones! Mrs Sloan isn’t keen on worms though.

Work continued in the mushroom garden, which was even muddier this week, but we can see that we are making progress. We are going to invite our parents to join us with this Project. Jenny has some excellent ideas.

A group finished emptying the raised bed in the skipping area and we filled a few new tyres with soil, before planting some bulbs. We will plant some herbs next week.

TCV (The Conservation Volunteers) Week 6

This weeks theme was edible parts of a plant. Thanks to Aaliyah for the photos and Aliesha for the notes.

Jenny kindly let us try edible parts of various plants.

We tried: pumpkin and sunflower seeds, chutney and kale crisps, which we would like to make ourselves, as they really tasted like crisps. Our observations were recorded and discussed, though Koby’s photo tells us what he thought!

Outside we continued to dig and clear an area of the mushroom garden; some of the holes we dug last week were full of water.

Our class tyre was filled with fresh soil, ready for planting vegetables.

Mr Davidson and a group emptied the raised bed outside the Community Room.

We all got rather muddy!

TCV (The Conservation Volunteers) Week 5

This week we looked at soil. Thanks to Lewis for the photos and Bryoni for the notes.

Jenny used us to help demonstrate how different types of soil drain water at various rates. This is something we will learn more about in Science, later in the year.

Aaliyah and Kaine confidently explained how to use some gardening tools.

For our practical tasks we worked very hard in groups:

One group continued to dig out the weedy area of the mushroom garden- (we can see the bottom now!)

Another group helped Jenny to plant vegetables in the new raised bed once more soil had been added. Tulips were also planted in some tyres.

A third group emptied out the old soil from our class tyre to prepare it for planting vegetables.

Mr Davidson enjoyed ‘mucking in’ too, helping us to replant a tree.

TCV (The Conservation Volunteers) Week 4

The theme this week was Pollination. Thanks to Isla for the notes and Abby for the photos.

We took part in a true or false quiz with questions related to this.Next, Jenny quizzed us on some of the tools from last week; luckily we re-capped on this yesterday using the flaschcards Jenny had left us!

For the rest of the afternoon we carried out a variety of practical tasks, such as filling wheelbarrows with soil then using this to fill up the new raised bed and several tyres, as well as making a start to clearing a weedy area of the mushroom garden.

TCV (The Conservation Volunteers) Week 3

This week’s theme was tools and gardening. Thanks to Chloe for the notes and Sean for the photos.

Firstly, we played a game of rabbit, fox and bush, which was a lot of fun once we got the hang of it! Next, we split into groups to match pictures of gardening tools with their meanings, so that we will know how to use them properly.

After that, half of the class made lovely symmetrical pictures by ‘bashing’ flowers with a stone – it really worked, as you can see from the photos.

The other half helped to fill some raised beds, then plant some flower seeds, which included Honeybells. Jenny also lined another raised bed, in which we put a strawberry plant.


TCV (The Conservation Volunteers) Week 2

This week’s theme was Biodiversity. Thanks to Kyla for taking notes and Koby for taking photos.

Jenny explained that we would be carrying out a survey of different habitats in the school grounds. After playing a game together, where we had to make the shapes of specific insects, we split into four groups.

Three groups rotated to explore different habitats then recorded the results. Jenny will post the results of our surveys online.

The fourth group collected Nasturtium seeds, which we will dry out, then sell, complete with instructions, for school funds.

Mrs Pearson, a member of C.O.G., lent us her support today and she will find out when the best time is to plant these seeds.


TCV (The Conservation Volunteers) Week 1

I am excited to announce that TCV have come to work with P7S over the next few months.Thanks to Carly Craig for the notes and Ben Steel for the photos.

Jenny from TCV visited us for the first time. We ate the petals of the Nasturtium plant then described the taste. You can add the flowers and leaves to your salad.

Coloured strands of wool were strewn over some bushes. We chose one colour to represent ourselves, one for our class and a third for nature. Jenny showed us how to make them into friendship bracelets. We worked in pairs then put them altogether for a class photo.

Next we made detailed plans of our school grounds, before discussing ideas for our next visit.

Outdoor Champions

I am pleased to announce that P7S will be the new Outdoor Learning Champions, which will build on the success of the pilot project.

Outdoor Learning Project – Revisited

Our veggies grew exceptionally well over the summer period. Pupils were very excited to harvest and taste what they had grown. We then presented them to Fiona in the kitchen who kindly offered to prepare the veggies.‪ #‎plantoplate

Schools Grounds – Chill Out Zone

Pupils enjoying the new palette ‘Chill Out Zone’. Special thanks to Jonathon and Jude from P6 for all their hard work!


That’s us back for the new session 2016/17 and raring to go with Outdoor Learning!

Outdoor Learning Project

Week 6: For the last week of our project we went to the local woods on  a Nature Trail.

Week 5: Pupils setting up camp and getting experience of using a Kelly Kettle. Afterwards they enjoyed a wee Cup-a-Soup made from the water they had boiled.

Week 4: We have added a herb garden to the Veggie Patch for a sensory experience. Afterwards pupils and parents tried their hand at a bit of tent building.

Week 3: Pupils sowing beetroot, radish, spring onion, chilli pepper, pea and rhubarb seeds in the Veggie Patch. As the Big Yin once said ‘There is no such thing as bad weather only bad clothing!’ (Billy Connolly). ‪#‎plantoplate‬

Week 2: Pupils and parents engaging in a scientific experiment to see how compost is made. We also managed to squeeze in a little bit of time to further develop the veggie patch area. I think there may be a few sore arms this morning! Sterling effort!

Week 1: Pupils and parents hard at work preparing the veggie patch.

School Grounds – Crazy Tyre Path & Stepping Stones

Primary 7M helping improve the school grounds by developing the ‘Crazy Tyre Path’ and Primary 2C enjoying the fruits of their labour. Pupils also added some new stepping stones for others to use at their leisure. Awesome job guys!




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