Assessment Outdoors

As a Primary Science and Outdoor Learning Consultant, I am often asked about how to assess science outdoors, and how to record children's learning outdoors.  

Below you will find some ideas and links to excellent resources.  Most of the images below have been taken from 'Teaching Primary Science Outdoors.'  

Children can carry out written work outdoors.  

Grouping and sorting could be done in hoops, chalk, or using ropes or sticks to mark out charts / tables.  

Children could do some written work indoors - after having worked outdoors.  

Children can use tablets to photograph and annotate their work.  Alternatively, they could draw a picture...  Recording is not always essential, so you could simply walk around looking at the children's creations and discussing why particular materials have been chosen, or what particular items represent.  

Children could represent their understanding of a concept using natural or found materials outdoors.  The discussion that the teacher has with the child will form the basis for assessment.  

Children could work together and record ideas on a large mind map.  

Odd one out.  Adapted from Explorify and from an idea in 100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Science, choose three items outdoors and ask children to discuss which is the odd one out and why... 

Adapted from an idea in 100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Science, ask children to describe which pixie house is best and why?  Or which tree is best and why...

Listen to children's comments...  Ask questions...

You might find these science sentence starters from That Science Lady helpful to promote scientific vocabulary and discussion.  

"Assessment is an ongoing activity that starts with teachers' lesson planning."

Naomi Hiscock, creator of PLAN Assessment resources.

Further guidance on assessment and PLAN Assessment can be found here.  

The Outdoor Learning CPD unit, a free download, includes some excellent examples of assessment of conceptual understanding outdoors.  

The Teacher Assessment in Primary Science (TAPS) project is based at Bath Spa University and funded by the Primary Science Teaching Trust (PSTT). TAPS aims to develop support for a valid, reliable and manageable system of primary school science assessment which will have a positive impact on children’s learning.

The Focussed Assessment plans support teachers in assessing working scientifically.  Under the 'TAPS files' tab, there is a 'TAPS Primary Science Enquiry Outdoors' document which hyperlinks to lots of TAPS plans which could be done outdoors or are about the outdoors.