Outdoor Learning at Home: Week Two

Hello friends, I hope you are safe and well? Thank you for getting in touch about last week’s newsletter. I really love seeing what you have been getting up to and connecting with you. Except if you have had lots of snow, in which case, I am just extremely jealous…

I don’t know about you, but as we are entering this second week of lockdown, there have been some big emotions around here (mainly from me). There has also been a lot of overwhelm (also, mainly me!)  However, in our house, getting outdoors always makes us feel better – it is guaranteed. The combination of movement and fresh air help us to move through and release the negative emotions. 

I feel very conscious not to add to other people’s overwhelm though. This newsletter is not a list of things for your family to do this week, it is just seasonal ideas for outdoor fun. Simply dip in to what might work for your family at any time. Stay safe and follow the government guidance.

You are doing an amazing job. Let’s go!

Photo: An animal print on a muddy footpath in Walmer, Kent.

Look for animal tracks 

Have you ever spotted animal tracks in the mud, sand or maybe the frost and snow? Winter is a really good time to hunt for animal tracks because it is so wet and soggy. Animal tracks can tell us which animals have been in an area. When you see an animal’s track, you know it has moved through that exact spot. 

If you can find more than one track and look at the spacing between steps, you might be able to tell whether the animal was moving speedily or slowly. If the tracks are far apart, they were probably moving quickly. Tracks close together indicate slower movement. 

You can find animal tracks anywhere in the Winter. Even in our towns and cities. Have a look for some tracks when you are out on your daily exercise, what story are they telling you?

Photo: A soft toy ladybird in a mini den made of sticks and pine needles.

Make a Mini Den 

One of our favourite Forest School activities is den building. A secret place, free from the grown ups – such excitement! Den building is a great activity for children of all ages, from physical development to problem solving skills. However, while we are in lockdown our access to places for den building, like woodlands, might be limited. Do not fear! Why not try building a mini den for your toys? Collect some sticks and leaves when you are out on a walk and create your dream den in miniature!

When den building, children are able to think creatively and put their ideas into reality. Creating dens gives children the opportunity to think outside of the box and problem solve in order to create a structure. They can also develop communication and language skills if they are working as a team to create their den, because they will need to take turns, explain their ideas and negotiate with others.

If you can’t find any sticks and leave, or are unable to go out, you could use cushions, building blocks, wooden spoons and even old t shirts instead.

Photo: A child writing on a map drawn on cardboard with a sharpie.

Go on a Listening Walk

When you go on a Listening Walk, rather than looking for things, you are trying to focus on the sounds you can hear around you. There is a lot less traffic during lockdown, so this is a great time to try a Listening Walk.

  • When you are out on a walk, stop often, and in different places. Try and be as quiet as you can. Ask your child what they can hear.
  • Notice sounds, both near and far away. Talk about how loud the sounds are. Talk about what’s making the sounds. Are they made by people or machines, or  are they natural noises like wind or birds?

Younger children might enjoy copying some of the noises they hear. See whether your child can make a sound like a seagull or a car engine. An older child could draw a Sound Map, showing where they have walked and what he has heard along the way.

A Listening Walk is a great activity for early reading skills. It is also a great way to pay attention to what’s happening right now, moment by moment. This is also known as mindfulness.

Find a Face in a Strange Place 

Sometimes you can find an imprint on a pebble or a shape in tree bark that looks like a face. You might even see a funny face on a lamp post or a car that looks like it has a face on its bonnet. 

Looking for faces in strange places can be a fun game to play when you are out for your daily walk.

If you’d like to add to this activity, why not talk about how you think the face might be feeling? You can talk about different scenarios and what face you would make in them. Recognising feelings is also an important step in developing self awareness and empathy for others. These are really healthy coping skills, especially in these very strange times.

I really hope your enjoy this week’s activities. Please let me know if you try them. You can tag me on Instagram and Facebook @holdfastbeachschool

Speak to you next week.

Stay safe, Rachel

Published by Rachel Stevens

Nature Lover. Educator. Fascinated with people, spaces and places. Lover of life.

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