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Outdoor Education: Making The Most Of Awesome Autumn

Each new season brings new educational opportunities for our children.

They learn a lot simply by outside, engaging with nature, and being aware of how their environment changes throughout the year.

As much as the Wicken team like children to be playing outside, we appreciate you can only make an autumnal walk outdoors last so long, before eventually you need to return to the warmth and shelter of home.

To help keep the kids entertained when you are at home this half term, here are some structured activities that make the most of the weather and time of year.

Seasonal Taste Test

Set up a food challenge that will encourage your children to try something new, as well as teach them about the seasonality of foods.

You will need: * A six hole muffin tin; * A piece of paper with the muffin tin drawn on it and the holes numbered; * Some seasonal foods such as apple, blackberries, potato (cooked), plums, corn on the cob.

What To Do: Fill each dip in the muffin tray with a different food. Then ask your children to first try to identify any foods they can by sight alone. Them encourage them to try each food in turn. Ask them to describe the food's flavour and texture, then take a guess as to what it is. You can then talk about where the food comes from, and why it is in season at this time of year.

Go Bonkers With Maths Conkers

Children are always collecting conkers and acorns, so embrace their hoarding tendencies and put their natural treasures to good use. Here are a few ideas for maths games you can play with your enormous conkers collection: i) Line the conkers up in a row according to size order. ii) Draw a grid of ten on the playground / patio, using chalk. Fill some of the squares with conkers, then ask how many more conkers are needed to fill the grid. Look online for 'numicon games'. Most of these games can be replicated with the conkers and a hand drawn grid. iii) Arrange the conkers in times table sets, and use chalk to write the sum above them. For example set out 3 rows of two conkers, then a pool of six, and write out "3 x 2 = 6".

Pump-cano

When Halloween has been and gone, the supermarkets often have a plentiful supply of pumpkins left over, and available at bargain prices. Entertain your kids by buying a small pumpkin, hollowing it out and using it as a volcano. Put some bicarbonate of soda inside the pumpkin, then add vinegar and watch the foam spew out. Measurements are pretty much up to you. The more bicarb you use, the more violent the reaction, and increasing both quantities will produce more impressive results. For a small mixing bowl sized pumpkin, I use 3 tablespoons of bicarb, and about 100ml of vinegar.

Make A Pine Cone Bird Feeder

This craft provides a good opportunity to talk about how birds survive the winter, and why they need extra help feeding themselves. The simplest way to make a bird feeder is to smother a pine cone in peanut butter, then dip it in bird seed. Hang the feeder well clear of any outdoor play equipment or suffer the consequences of bird poop on your slide.

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