Weather: drizzle but mild
Suggested activity: discovering leaves, size, shapes, colours and making nature crowns
My first session, helping with outdoor environmental themed activities with the reception children at school was last week, and I had a few butterflies in my stomach! All the reception children brought in wellies and some even brought ski suits or waterproof trousers. Only one girl didn't have a hood, but I had taken a spare fisherman's hat, just in case! I was a little concerned about the drizzle and how the children would react to getting wet, so agreed with the teacher to play it by ear, and take the group back in if the children got too wet or upset.
We started by walking outdoors, to a place underneath some mature beech trees and formed a circle. The children were asked not to use the 'trim trail' (wooden play equipment) as it was very wet. They were also asked what things they had to be aware of, they replied, "slippy leaves, tree trunks they may fall over and mud!" I also asked them to stay in the upper part of the field (the fields are very big and with a group of 29 children if they dispersed too far, it would be difficult to control this first session).
The children were also asked when I shouted "Children, where are you?" they all turned to me and said "here, I am," we practiced this a few times and when I used it in the session, they responded quickly to me. I thought this would be a gentle way to get their attention, as I didn't want to use a whistle!
In the circle, the children were asked to be nature detectives and look around the grounds and find a leaf that caught their eye. Some picked the leaf quickly, choosing the first, others wandered and were gently encouraged to pick a few that they liked. All children returned to the circle, with their leaves and I asked each of them in turn why they chose their leaves, most said the size or colour. One child said his sycamore leaf looked like a tiger's foot, another said he chose his leaf as the rain uses it as a trampoline!
"I chose my leaf as the rain uses it as a trampoline!"
All children were able to tell me why and weren't too shy to share with me a new person, which was wonderful. Whilst we were doing this, we could hear a leaf blower being used by someone clearing leaves from a nearby footpath, we walked towards the noise and saw drifts of leaves at the top of the field. We encouraged the children to kick them, one child picked them up and threw them in the air. I asked the teacher if this was OK, so we all started picking up leaves and throwing them in the air laughing! We formed a circle with handfuls of leaves and all threw the leaves up at the same time, really great fun. One girl got a leaf in her mouth and was a little upset, but some consoling from her teacher and she was quickly alright again.
To end our session, we gathered lots of wet leaves to take back inside and dry out, to make nature crowns, which we weren't able to do in this session as it was too wet. We were outside for about 45 minutes and then took a further 10 minutes to take coats and wellies on and off.
*Wild Things is part of a series of blog posts documenting my involvement in outdoor education activities with the reception class of my son's school. The aim is to encourage children to discover the natural world through simple activities and play. I hope by sharing these activities here on my blog, others may be inspired to try some of the activities at home or even, like me, approach their local school to help out.