January 10, 2024
This year British Science Week takes place from 8th - 17th March 2024. Here at Alfresco Learning not only are we experts in taking the National Curriculum outdoors but we also have a couple of Primary Science specialists on our team too! So if you’re looking at this year’s science week theme of ‘time’ and scratching your head for activity ideas, look no further as we have you covered with 3 outdoor, time-themed, science activities in this very blog post!
All the activities we have shared draw upon our expertise in Primary Science and outdoor learning to bring you a variety of activities that require minimal resources, minimal preparation and maximum fun for your KS1 and KS2 children!
And that’s not all! We are writing this blog post to share MORE free ideas with you, but you’ll find our original British Science Week 2024 activity featured in the official Primary Science Pack, so be sure to check that one out too!
Keep reading for 3 simple, practical and engaging activities to get your children excited about science and nature all related to the theme of time!
Nature Calendar activity
Time is such a challenging concept for particularly our youngest children to grasp. The best way to help them with this is to draw upon visible signs of time and the changing of seasons is the perfect example to highlight the passing of time to our children. Ideally, you would record the visible changes in your outdoor space through photographs over the year but you may not already have this recorded. Alternatively, you can use photographs from school events such as sports days in the summer, snow days in the winter and any other special events or class blogs and be detectives to look for how the environment changed at different times within the year.
Alternatively, you can just use photographs that represent different seasonal changes but relating it to an outdoor environment the children are familiar with will help to engage them in the discussion.
Once the children have identified the features of each of the seasons, you can create a nature calendar!
How to create a nature calendar
- Gather a range of natural materials from your school grounds. If you don’t have many plants or green spaces within your school grounds, organise a trip to your local park or woodland. Alternatively, you could send paper bags home for the children to gather pieces of nature from natural spaces or gardens at home and then bring them in for this activity.
- Have the photographs you used in your discussion available to refer back to.
- Discuss the differences you see over the four seasons in the weather and natural surroundings.
- Challenge children to create their own pictorial representations of each of the four seasons using the natural resources they collected.
Key Questions for the Nature Calendar activity
- What differences do you notice as the seasons change?
- Are there any key differences in what you observe through the seasons?
- How do these differences relate to the life cycles of plants or animals?
Life Cycle Art activity
Life cycles are a source of fascination for children (and adults) of all ages. They are also another visual that demonstrates the passing of time! This activity works best when it holds meaning for your children, so you may look at the life cycle of an animal in a book your class is studying, or if you know you have e.g. frogs in the school pond, take some time to go and see which step of the lifecycle they are currently in. However you decide to bring context to this activity is up to you, but just make sure you do to engage your children, it’s how we get the best scientific questions from them!
Then life cycle art is a great activity to represent that knowledge and learning in a creative way outdoors!
How to make Life Cycle Art outdoors
- Have children gather a range of natural materials from your outdoor space.
- Recap the learning on life cycles that your children have done previously, this will differ depending on the year group.
- Encourage children to create their own diagrams of the lifecycles you have recapped using the natural resources.
Top tip: Use old pillowcases or old off-cuts of cloth to create a blank background, this helps the natural items to pop and helps you to photograph them well for displays etc.!
Key Questions for Life Cycle Art Activity
- What are the key stages of the life cycle?
- Can you remember any important facts that need to be in your diagram?
- How could you represent the amount of time that passes during the life cycle?
The Changes in Our World
Over time, the world has changed. This is continuing to happen due to climate change and the melting of the ice caps. This outdoor investigation is perfect for KS2 children to find out about the changes that happen when sea ice and land ice melt!
Lesson context for The Changes in Our World
Melting sea ice doesn’t make sea levels rise. This is due to the ice already being in the sea, so it is already displacing the same volume of water once melted.
Melting land ice does make sea levels rise. This is because the melted water runs into the oceans, adding extra volume. Sea levels are already about 21cm higher than they were in 1900 and this rise is accelerating.
Related content: impact of rising sea levels
The Changes in Our World Activity
- Freeze lots of ice cubes ready for the investigation.
- Set up empty trays outside. Top Tip - the trays that are often used for children to store their belongings work well for this, have the children empty them out!
- Using natural resources, including stones or pebbles, in groups, children build islands in the centre of the trays.
- Pour a set volume of water into the trays (this should be enough so the ice cubes will float when they are added, but doesn’t quite cover the pebbles).
- Add a set number of ice cubes to the water in each tray. This is to represent sea ice.
- Use a ruler to measure the level of the water, record your results, and then leave the sea ice to melt.
- Once it has all melted, measure the level of the water again and record the new results.
- Repeat the investigation, but this time, put the ice cubes on the stone islands.
- Use a ruler to measure the level of the water, record your results and then leave the land ice to melt.
- Once it has all melted, measure the water level again and record the new results.
Key Questions for The Changes in Our World
- What do you think will happen? Make a prediction.
- How did the level of the water change when the sea ice melted?
- How did this differ from when the land ice melted?
- Why was it different?
Taking Science Week 2024 outside
One of the main benefits of taking your Science Week outdoors is to expose your children to science that is all around them in their everyday lives. These types of activities also provide opportunities for children to gather a deeper understanding of nature and can increase their science capital too if you also link in the different types of scientists that study these concepts.
However, Science Week isn’t the only time of year that taking your science outdoors will bring benefits for your children. Taking your science lessons outdoors regularly opens up the opportunity for a whole range of observations, investigations and meaningful experiments.
Inside our Planning Hub we have a wide range of outdoor lesson plans, covering the Key Stage One and Key Stage Two science curriculum that you can use to take your everyday science lessons outside. You’ll also find our brand new science activity packs which share even more activities focused on the themes of time and connection, combining the curriculum with your outdoor environment. You could use these to go all out for Science Week or supplement your science lessons with them throughout the year!
Related content: Memberships for the Alfresco Learning Hub
Wondering how to take more of your everyday curriculum teaching outdoors?
If you’re hooked on the idea of taking learning outside but not quite sure on how to approach it, or wondering how you can upskill your staff team, take a look at our variety of training options. Whether you choose to send an individual on our training courses or have us visit your school to train your whole team, all of our staff training offers you the perfect blend of practical, hands-on training with a wider knowledge of the benefits and practicalities of taking your whole class outdoors, leaving everyone feeling empowered to start your outdoor learning journey!
Read more about our staff training: Have us train your staff team in curriculum outdoor learning