The great outdoors

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By Tracey Godridgewriter with the National School Grounds Charity Learning through Landscapes

Make the most of your outdoor area with these imaginative activity ideas

child with frog

Outdoor exploration

Provide a wide variety of natural materials for the children to explore and, where possible, give them the space and freedom to be as inventive and as messy as they want to be. Running water will add to the enjoyment and investigation of natural resources.

Provide some nice-smelling plants outdoors such as mint, lemon balm or lavender for sensory experiences, and shrubs that will withstand having their leaves and flowers picked for potions and stews.

Attract minibeasts into your outdoor area by providing a dead wood feature, leaf litter, mulch or bark, and pollen-rich plants.

Model care and respect for the natural environment by gently handling plants and wildlife, establishing and maintaining outdoor habitats, properly disposing of litter and recycling or reusing as many materials as possible.

Suggested resources

Sand; gravel; pebbles; leaves; water; grass; soil; shells; clay; safe plants that provide leaves and petals with a range of smells and textures; short- and long-handled garden tools; water hose; bucket; wooden spoons; scoops; baking tins; saucepans; bowls; mortar and pestle; small plastic bottles; conkers; acorns; shells; bags, boxes, pots and bins for storage; wheelbarrows.

1 Minibeast hunt

Look for bugs and insects in your outdoor area

Knowledge and Understanding of the World

Exploration and Investigation

Development matters: show curiosity and interest in the features of objects and living things (30-50 months); notice and comment on patterns (40-60+ months).

Early learning goal: find out about, and identify, some features of living things, objects and events they observe.

What you need

Group size: small groups.

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