Sabrina - Play of the Wild
Sabrina is a mother and teacher who is passionate about providing children with opportunities to learn outside of the classroom, and enjoys teaching children how to garden and to discover and enjoy the wonders of nature. She founded Play of the Wild to support and encourage teachers and parents to use the outdoors for engaging learning activities.
Taking your literacy lessons outside is a great way to change up your routine and to get your class engaged in learning. It’s an excellent opportunity to bring some excitement to your lessons while also allowing the children to enjoy being outdoors in the fresh air.
If you don’t usually take your class outside for lessons, it’s a good idea to set the boundaries as well as your expectations beforehand. It is then important to continue to reinforce these throughout your time outside. The more time you spend outdoors with your class, the easier it will be to enjoy the benefits and the fun of outside learning!
Ways to take literacy outside
- Take story time outside
- Outdoor phonics
- Story stones
- Outdoor story map
- Nature walk recount & observations
- Class information book on the local area
1. Take story time outside
Having a story outside is a great way to begin taking literacy out of the classroom. It’s ideal for teachers or children who are newly adjusting to having class outside.
Choosing books about nature or the seasons can help children to tune in to the world around them. They will be able to observe and discuss these topics in much greater detail when they are sitting outdoors.
2. Outdoor phonics
It can be fun to take some phonics lessons outside to practice and reinforce classroom learning. There are various ways to do this, and the following are a few simple ideas:
Children can play games such as sight word hopscotch. Similarly, you could write large letters (including diagraphs & trigraphs) on the ground, and the children could race to stand on them when they are called out. Children could use phonics pebbles to make as many words as they can think of, using phonics sounds they are learning, or they could use them to practice spelling words. Children can go on short and long vowel hunts around the playground to look for and sort objects based on the sound of the vowels.
3. Story stones
Children need lots of practice in reading stories, orally retelling them, and adapting other people’s stories, before they can create their own. Story stones are a great resource, and children can lay them out and order them to remind them of how the story is sequenced. These are an excellent prompt for children to visually represent stories that they have read, in order to practice retelling and adapting them.
Children can also make rocks with characters or other images on them, if they would like to add new elements or adaptations into their version.
4. Outdoor story map
Like story stones, story maps are a great way to help children retell, plan and prepare their ideas before they write a story. Story maps are another great activity to take outside.
Children can use outdoor chalk to draw 3-6 boxes in which they can then depict the parts of the story from the beginning, to the middle, and then to the end. Using these prompts will guide them in retelling their stories out loud. This is excellent practice to help children to know their story well before they write it.
5. Nature walk recount & observations
It’s a wonderful experience for children to go on nature walks during the different months of the year. It provides an exciting opportunity to observe wildlife as well as to observe and learn how the environment changes through the seasons. Children will enjoy discussing and sharing what they see and find.
These types of walks can also be a great inspiration for writing. As children walk, they can collect a few objects such as leaves, twigs, pebbles etc. to help them remember what they did and what they saw. They can then write a recount of their walk and practice using sequencers such as first, then, next, after that, and finally in describing their experience.
6. Class information book on the local area
Creating a class information book about the local area can be a fun way to take learning outside over the course of a term. When I have done this with my classes, I have taken them on walking trips to local points of interest each week or fortnight.
Children can see and learn first hand about places such as the train station, pond, post office, park, shop, market, church or temple. After each visit, they can discuss and then write about these places, including the facts that they have learnt. The children’s writing can then be compiled along with the photos taken on the various outings, to make a class book.
These exciting outside literacy activities will be sure to engage and excite your students! If you have any more fun ideas for taking literacy learning outside, we would love to hear from you!