NOTE: This blog post was first published in 2010 and the photos clearly show that laminated sheets have been used. Please have a look at this post for lots of alternatives to laminating paper. It really isn’t necessary.

I love simple ideas that one teacher can do with 30 children outdoors. For children to be outside learning on a frequent and regular basis we need to demonstrate that this is worthwhile and doable. The Coombes School was wonderful to visit because it was a state school with large classes that are outside every day all year round. Here’s example of a simple reading activity that took very little preparation and was a lot of fun with Year 1 & 2 children (Primary 2 & 3).

The poem used was The Echoing Green by William Blake. However you’ll see how this approach can be used for lots of poems.

The children typed out the poem, each line on a separate piece of paper. This is a nice group activity for developing word processing skills. Each sheet was illustrated and laminated, though I’m sure plastic sleeves or ziplock bags would be more appropriate alternatives.

The teacher mixed up the poem and put the sheets in different places along a path in the school grounds. This would work well around many school boundaries.

Beside each sheet was a cuddly toy animal. Some were native, others were just whatever happened to be available. British wildlife soft toys can be bought through Muddy Faces.

The children each had a clip board with the poem written on a piece of paper.

Beside each line of the poem, they had to write or draw the soft animal that is beside the sheet on the walk.

Some of the animals and sheets were quite well hidden. The children had to look up high, on the ground and there were even one or two in a field out with the school!

At the end of the walk, the children had to check that they had found all the animals for each line of the poem. So they were able to check each others work and give shared feedback.

This activity has the potential to be extended in so many different ways. For instance, the children could take down the poetry and a group challenge would be to organise themselves into a line with each child holding a sheet so that the poem could be read aloud in the correct order. I’m a lover of maps and I would also like to make this into an orienteering challenge with slightly older children. Here is an example of groups of mixed children undertaking a Red Rose poem hunt. What would you do?

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