Wild Days: Outdoor Play for Young Adventurers / The Gruffalo and Friends Outdoor Activity Book

Wild Days: Outdoor Play for Young Adventurers
Richard Irvine
GMC Publications

The author of this super book runs Forest School training for new leaders as well as Forest School programmes so most certainly knows what he’s talking about. I was convinced of this as I read in the book’s introduction, ‘To be safe in the world, young people need to be allowed to take risks.’ In fact, wearing my teacher’s hat, I’d say that risk taking is key in any real learning, not only that which takes place outdoors.

There are three main sections ‘Making’, ‘Games and stories’ and ‘Exploring’; but before plunging into these it’s important to read the pages on responsible behaviour (Leave no trace being key), being prepared before setting out, suggestions for tools you might want to take along and what you might do with them.

The Making activities vary from den building and campfire cooking to painting with natural materials. I loved the Forest friends spread, even more so the later suggestion that the characters created could be used in Storytelling, one of the ideas in the Games and Stories section.

Another idea that I can’t wait to try with some youngsters is Leaf Bashing aka Hapa Zome – a method of making leaf prints that works well on old sheets or similar cotton material and of course, the bashing part is a great way of letting off steam and a terrific lockdown antidote.

A great group activity in the second section is a ‘Finding things’ Treasure hunt and with younger children especially, the author’s suggestion to stay in pairs is advisable.

Much of the third Exploring part is concerned with identification, be that of plants, birds and their songs, butterflies or invertebrates, but a gentle word of warning: it’s important not to get too obsessed with mere naming to the exclusion of observing and relishing the beauty of nature’s flora and fauna.

I could go on extolling the virtues of this cracking book but instead I’ll suggest that as well as families, all education settings add a copy to their collections, and start putting some of Richard Irvine’s ideas into action whatever the weather. Each one of them has a list of what you’ll need and step-by-step instructions as well as colour photographs. What better way to get youngsters of all ages outdoors learning through and about nature; in fact it covers pretty much every area of the curriculum.

The Gruffalo and Friends Outdoor Activity Book
Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler
Macmillan Children’s Books

The twenty four activities in this spirally bound book have been created by Forest School specialists, Little Wild Things and are based on Julia and Axel’s The Gruffalo, Monkey Puzzle, Room on the Broom and Charlie Cook’s Favourite Book.

Each section has a context setting spread with a quote from the relevant book ‘A mouse took a stroll through the deep dark wood. / A fox saw the mouse and the mouse looked good.’ and every activity has a list of what’s needed, numbered ‘What to do’ instructions, hints and tips and some extension suggestions.

Whether used with a group or by an individual, there’s lots of fun learning across the curriculum herein.

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