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Outdoor fun in May

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By Rose Joyce — accredited trainer and facilitator at Learning through Landscapes

The month of May brings warmer weather and longer days, so go outside and make the most of what the outdoors has to offer

Mud aliens

With a group of children, dig up a clump of soil from your outdoor area. Check for any potentially harmful items in the soil and remove them. Encourage each child to take a small piece of the soil and mould it into the shape of an alien. Offer them a selection of berries, small sticks and stones to create features on their alien such as arms, legs, eyes and a tail, or let them look for their own. Ask the children to find a special place for their alien to shelter from the elements. This could be behind a drainpipe or in a small crack in a wall. Encourage the children to visit their alien regularly to see how it is getting on. Focus on safety and hand washing as integral aspects of this activity.

Minibeast hotel

With parental permission, take the children for a walk in your local area or nearby wood where they can collect a selection of twigs and sticks. Explain to them that, together, you are going to build a special minibeast hotel in your outdoor area. Encourage the children to think about where would be the best location for the hotel and to give reasons for their choice. Make a base row of large sticks and add smaller twigs, weaving them into the spaces between the larger sticks. Each time you go out for a walk with the children, bring back more sticks and twigs to enhance your hotel. As they rot down, keep a look out to see who comes to live there. Remember to tell the children the rules regarding carrying and using sticks.

Picture perfect

Take digital photographs of features of your outdoor area and laminate them. These can be photographs of anything from a manhole cover to a downspout, or a holly bush to a boundary gate. Invite the children to work in pairs or small groups and ask them to match their photogr aph to the real object outside. Visit each group to celebrate their success and talk about the feature itself, its name, its properties and its function. Display the images outside beside the feature to encourage further discussion and recall of the activity among the children.

Number clumps

Define a space in your outdoor area, in the park or in the woods, using a long rope or plastic cones. Explain to the children that this is the space they are going to use. Walk the boundary with younger children to ensure they understand where they can go. Encourage them to run about, jump up and down in the area, skip and so on. When they hear your voice calling a number, they should quickly get into groups of that number. The numbers you call should be dependent on the age and ability of the children. A lot of adult support will make this great fun even for toddlers, using low numbers and lots of laughter as you count.

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