The Summer holidays is a time for fun, rest and relaxation, but it’s important to keep little brains active, so there’s not too much relearning to be done when they go back to school in September.
Nobody wants to be sat at the kitchen table with a workbook on a sunny day, so take their home education outside with these tips for learning outdoors. A change of scenery and the extra sensory stimulation provided by being outside helps facilitate learning.
Take squares of cardboard and use double sided sticky tape to mark out a letter on each card. Then go outside and hunt for natural material to stick to the tape and watch the letter emerge. This works really well with cut grass, daisies and dandelion clocks.
Have you ever played the game ‘consequences’ where each player adds another paragraph in turn to the story? Go on a walk outside together, with each person taking in turns to tell a part of the story. Count out 20 paces, then stop and be inspired by something you see and say the first paragraph of the story. After another 20 paces, the next person looks around for inspiration and adds a little more to the tale.
Take A Book Outdoors
Take a favourite story outside and challenge your little ones to come up with the most unusual perches in the garden for reading. Maybe they will sit on a swing, or hide under the slide. It is just as important for young children to develop a love of stories and reading, as it is for them to learn technical skills such as phonics. You could make a reading den by securing a blanket over the climbing frame and filling the space with comfy cushions to relax on.
Eye Spy Phonics
Play a game of eye-spy, but instead of using the starting letter, use phonic sounds. Once your children are familiar with the game you can change the position of the sound, for example “something with ‘oo’ in the middle”.
Learning to recall sequences is an important skill for literacy and numeracy. Go for a walk around your neighbourhood and note down landmarks in the order in which you see them. Then play a game where you recall your walk, one landmark at a time: “We went to the shops and we saw a red post box”, then the next person says “we went for a walk and we saw a red post box, and then we saw my school”, and so on.
Look around your garden for objects and natural materials that look like punctuation marks. You might even find some letter shapes too.
Idioms And Metaphors
For older children, playing outdoors provides the opportunity to discuss idioms and metaphors. You could start by collecting some materials together, then attributing an idiom (an everyday saying) to each one. For example, a stone would become ‘stone the crows’, and you can explain (or look up) where that expression comes from and what it means.