Saturday, 30 August 2014

86 ideas for fabulous outdoor fun (Part 4)

Well, it certainly has been a while since my last post! Apologies for this but I have been a very busy cookie - I have left my position at the nursery to return into the world of education. I have finally decided to take that big step and train to become a Primary Teacher! Wish me luck!

The other, very exciting, thing that has taken up an awful lot of my time is... I got married! On the 9th of August I was lucky enough to become the wife of the most fantastic man, and enjoy the best day of my life surrounded by family and friends.

Anyway! Enough about me - let's get back to thinking about the children and the many, many, many, MANY fantastic outdoor learning experiences

Caring for our environment

It's so important to teach children about the wonder of our environment and our impact on it. Here are a few ideas to get children thinking and caring...

Creating habitats

Attract creatures to your garden by building some simple habitats:

  • Minibeast home - You can use some natural resources to build homes for creepy crawlies. Use sticks and logs of all different shapes and sizes to create lots of nooks and crannies. Alternatively a cardboard box or an old pop bottle could be used. You can also use leaves or soil/ compost to create damp areas as well as dry. The best minibeast homes blend in with their natural surroundings.
  • Hedgehog home - Turn over a crate and cover it with soil and other natural resources to make it blend in with the surroundings. (Oh and make sure that there is a way for the hedgehogs to get in!)
  • Bird home - You know what a bird house looks like! But why not try your woodwork skills and build a 3 sided house that you can attach to a window. Add an entrance and some dried grass/ leaves/ something to make it into a cosy home. This way the children can see right inside as the birds use the home.

What are the children learning? 
They're learning about the different types of life in the world around us. They're learning about our impact on this life and how we can help or hinder it. They're learning about designing and creating, as well as choosing appropriate materials and they're learning about following instructions and working together. Oh, and of course the skill of observing the wildlife as well!

Planting and growing

I don't think I need to go into too much detail here - whether you have a plot of land, a corner of the garden or just a window box - children are fascinated by the process of planting and growing!

Some extension activities:
- Plant a range of seeds and have a 'race' to see which ones grow the fastest
- Try and guess the plant by looking at it's seed 
- Place one pot in a dark place and one in a light place and observe the differences as they grow (or don't grow as the case may be!) 
- Keep a 'Growing Diary' with pictures, words or even photographs. This is a great way to allow the children to use all of the new words and vocab that you'll have been teaching them throughout this activity.
- Measuring the plant's growth using a range of equipment such as rulers or tape measures.
- Picking and using and fruit/ veg that you have grown and using it in your food technology!

What are the children learning?

They are learning the science of the process of growing. They are learning about the variety and diversity of plants and growth around us. They are learning maths and through measuring growth and language and literacy through recording their observations.

Bird Feeders

Here are 2 simple ways that you can make your own bird feeders:

  • Use a large pine cone, smother it in butter or lard (messy and fun!) and then roll in bird seed. Attach string and viola!
  • Take some stale bread. Use a biscuit or playdough cutter to cut it into an attractive shape. Then use a sticky substance like honey and cover the bread before sprinkling with bird seed.
Make sure to hang them somewhere which is close enough that the children can observe through a window, but not too close that the birds are too afraid to use it!

What are the children learning?
So many things!:
You could add some books/ bird spotting sheets around the window area and allow the children to recognise and appreciate their local wildlife. They are learning about their impact on the creatures around them. They are learning to be quiet and patient while observing. Add some paper and pencils and encourage them to draw any birds that they see - bringing art and creative skills into the activity.

Litter picking

It's a bit sad, but I always really enjoy this activity!

Image from
Make sure to have a chat with the children before you head out about safety - make a mind map or 'risk assessment' including the essentials - namely - we do not touch the litter! And when we return to nursery - we wash our hands!

When I lead this activity, I read the children a story called 'Dinosaurs and all that rubbish' (Michael Foreman) which is a fantastic conversation starter. I then kitted the children out with rubber gloves and litter pickers, along with a few plastic bags.
(Now, we only had a few litter pickers, so I was able to include the all important skill of turn taking throughout this activity!)
When you get outside, it wont take long (sadly) to find some litter. Watch the children's co-ordination and motor skills develop along with their problem solving as they work out how to use the litter pickers to move the litter into the plastic bag. This could also be a great opportunity for teamwork if you have some children holding bags while others use the pickers.
As this activity continues, you can talk to the children about which objects are/ are not litter. How can you tell? Do you think this object should be here? What could happen if we leave our litter on the ground? What should we do with it? ... You get the idea :)

What are the children learning?
They are learning to be responsible citizens, to care for their environment and appreciate the world around them. They are also developing their thinking and speaking skills as well as physical capabilities.


This is a lovely side activity to link in with your gardening activities.
Here is a link to the BBC site with a step by step guide to get you started!

What are the children learning?
That garden and food waste can be re-used to create something valuable! They are also learning to be patient (composting does not happen over night) as well as all of the skills they they are gaining from their planting a growing activities.

You might also like:

Part 1: Let's get physical 

Part 2: No resources? No problem!

Part 3: Out in all weathers

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