Literacy Day 2020

For Literacy Day here are 10 reasons to teach literacy outside.

The Covid crisis has shown an increase in 60% of our population’s appreciation of the natural world. Yet still so many of our children have not had access to nature during these months or as part of their educational experience.

Literacy Day 2020

We decided the greatest impact we could have was to train people to practice themselves. Whilst there is a lot of focus on early years and literacy, the value of reading, writing, talking and listening outside for children and young people of all ages is significant.

Please see our Blog below from Juliet Robertson – 10 reasons to teach Literacy outside:

1. It makes the learning and teaching of spelling and grammar fun, relevant and interesting.

2. Children enjoy making miniature worlds which then become the scene for a story. They can sculpt and shape their imaginative thoughts. This helps them understand about creating a setting with words.

3. The world around us provides inspiration for writing poems. The results are consistently of a better quality than poetry written in the classroom.

4. As we move from place to place, our thoughts, feelings and actions change. This helps us understand that this happens to characters in a story too. We can make our character descriptions more authentic.

5. There is nothing like reading a ghost book or horror story in a creepy place. Or making up your own. The setting doubles the atmosphere created.

6. When we play games we can write down instructions about how to play them. Our knowledge of being outside can be used to write advice to others about how to avoid being stung by a wasp or what to do if a nettle stings you. Functional writing has additional purpose and relevance.

7. Real life experiences help us develop our vocabulary and comprehension. For example, some children find vocabulary introduced in a book confusing. He or she may not necessarily understand that a river, lake, stream and pond are all bodies of water. Sometimes concepts that are read about in a book do not make sense until they are seen, felt or experienced for real.

8. We’re not reading at our desks. Hardly anyone reads at a desk unless they are at school or in an office. Reading for pleasure should be at leisure.

9. The art of naming, describing and knowing about the world around us matters. You can learn the umpteen descriptions to describe the stem of a plant. But without observing these, it is much harder to memorise or to truly know and understand.

10. Children engage with their learning outside and this has a knock-on effect back in the classroom too, according to a recent study.


Lighting the Literacy Fire – CPD on 21st October 2020
Literacy Day 2020


Come and spend a busy, happy day with Juliet Robertson, exploring literacy outside.

Together, we: 


  • Explore the practicalities of developing any outdoor space as a literacy-rich environment on a shoestring budget using natural materials and sustainable approaches.
  • Look at approaches to ensuring your children become prolific mark makers outside using a range of creative approaches and through careful attention to their physical development.
  • Consider the joy of facilitating many contexts for listening and talking.
  • Ensure that a range of texts and narratives are an everyday part of your outdoor practice.

This course is suitable for those who work with children in EYFS or are hoping to do so.

The courses are backed up by oodles of resources on a password protected blog post and the many blog posts that are readily accessible on the Creative STAR website. 

FIND OUT MORE | BOOK YOUR PLACE


Messy Maths – CPD on 20th October 2020

Juliet will also be running Messy Maths CPD on 20th October 2020 – An Outdoor, Playful Approach for Early Years.

FIND OUT MORE | BOOK YOUR PLACE


Webinars with Juliet Robertson and Circle of Life Rediscovery

Juliet is an educational consultant  specialising in Outdoor Learning and Play.  Join us for  ‘live’, interactive webinars this Autumn.   If you can’t make it, just register and we will send you all the recordings and access to many current and useful resources to view on your own time.

With increased interest in the use of outdoor spaces for teaching and learning, these webinars ‘More Messy Maths’  and ‘Mud, Mess & Magic’ will equip you to develop your confidence and meet curriculum needs whilst teaching outside.

BOOK NOW


About Juliet Robertson
Check out our webinars with Juliet Robertson

Juliet is an educational consultant who specialises in outdoor learning and play. Previously, she was the head teacher of three schools ranging in size from 6 to 277 pupils. Juliet is based in Scotland and has worked at a national level since 2008 writing case studies, documents and doing behind the scenes work to help shape strategy and support for schools and early years establishments.

This includes heading up the team that wrote the Education Scotland document, Outdoor Learning: A Practical Guide for Scottish Teachers and Practitioners(2011), co-authoring Loose Parts Play – A Toolkit (2016 & 2019) and being part of the Scottish Government strategy group that created A Play Strategy for Scotland (2013). Most recently, Juliet contributed to Out to Play (2018), a Scottish early years document supporting practitioners to develop off-site provision in local greenspace. Find out more.


About Circle of Life Rediscovery
Circle of Life Rediscovery

Circle of Life Rediscovery provides exciting and highly beneficial nature-centred learning and therapeutic experiences for young people, adults, and families in Sussex woodlands, along with innovative continuing professional development for the health, well being and teaching professionals who are supporting them

Forest Kindergarten Training

‘Opening up the Outdoors’

Forest Kindergarten is modelled on a Forest School approach


Forest Kindergarten is modelled on a Forest School approach and is based around child-centred learning through play in the Early Years. Forest Kindergartens offer young children frequent visits and regular play opportunities in a local, natural setting all year round – this could be a woodland, park or even a beach!

What are the benefits of Forest Kindergarten approach?

10 Benefits of a Forest Kindergarten approach

  1. Enjoyment – Children who regularly learn, play and enjoy the outdoors environment are observed to feel happier and more relaxed. They can learn at their own pace, follow an interest, enjoy the fresh air, get mucky without worry – what could be better?
  2. Play – the Forest Kindergarten approach supports child-centred learning through play in a real world context. It provides young children with freedom to explore and use multiple senses.
  3. Nature immersion, discovery and exploration – Children have the time and space to become the ‘directors’ of their own learning. Staff take on an observation and supporting role and this empowers children to become managers of their own learning process.
  4. Creates interactions – with people and places where they play in their local area. As a result of these positive interactions, children learn to care for nature. Children develop a connection with the natural world which can lead to long term environmental awareness, understanding and positive action.
  5. Well-being – promotes movement, health and well being, physical and emotional resilience, promotes ‘in the moment’ experiences and develops confidence.
  6. Awareness – supports the acquisition of knowledge, skills and care for the natural world.
  7. Motivation and concentration – spending time in the outdoor environment is exciting for a child. The outdoors and its constant changing state fascinates children and therefore leads to high levels of attention. Many practitioners who regularly take children to visit local spaces have noted that children are able to participate and concentrate for longer periods of time.
  8. Risk benefit – regular visits with time and space, supportive adults and plenty of child led play helps to develop children’s awareness of risk as well as their confidence in managing risk. Children develop their confidence with taking risk over time and consider as a direct experience before deciding what action to take.
  9. Teamwork / co-operation – children when playing and exploring outdoors can demonstrate a less competitive nature. They use the natural world in a completely different way, often becoming more imaginative with their play, developing a different rhythm and working together for a shared purpose. There is less academic pressure, less formal structure which children (and adults) really respond to.
  10. The ripple effect – When children have positive experiences outdoors they will take their experiences home to share with friends and family. This will often encourage families to visit their local woodlands more frequently.

“At the end of the day, your feet should be dirty, your hair messy and your eyes sparkling” – Shanti

Equip your staff to take children out of door as part of their everyday education!

At Circle of Life Rediscovery we are running a two-day Forest Kindergarten Training in May, East Sussex.

Forest Kindergarten Training in East Sussex


The aim of this two-day training is to develop Early Years practitioners’ skills to enable and empower them to make regular visits to a local green-space or woodland.

What themes underpin this training?

  • Based upon three themes- people, place and pedagogy (activities).
  • The importance of sustained, free play for children’s development and engagement.
  • The value of nature for well-being – both for child and practitioner.
  • Making a connection with the natural world leading to long term environmental awareness and care for our world.
  • Importance of reflective practice.

Key Content:

  • How to prepare both yourselves as practitioners and your young children to go to a green-space.
  • Setting up a suitable site and setting boundaries with children.
  • Preparing for risks (risk benefit model).
  • Research on the benefits of playing and learning outdoors.
  • Games and songs to support children with the routines of regular visits to a green-space.

Course details:

Date: 7th & 14th May 2020.
Location: Mill Woods, near Laughton, East Sussex.
Time: 09.00 – 16.30.
Cost: £175.
Booking: Please book online here. See our website for full course details. Please note:  If this event needs to be postponed due to the Covid-19 virus, we will reschedule and provide an option to return payment.

Forest Kindergarten Training - Learn how to open up the outdoors!

“I enjoyed this training so much! Having already been doing Forest School with the older children I was struggling to do fun and exciting things with the early years- you have bought back my confidence and given me lots of ideas and ways to improve my practice.”
2020 Participant


Nature hour

Take your kids outside for nature hour!

A ‘nature hour’ should be part of the school curriculum every day, say The Wildlife Trusts. They are calling for every child in the UK to spend one hour outside in nature, every day, as part of the school curriculum. Please read the article here.



Forest School Shelters

At Circle of Life Rediscovery we can design and build bespoke forest school shelters for your school or organisation.

Forest School Shelters


We will visit your site to discuss your needs and requirements, to offer advice and give suggestions. Visit the website to learn more.






Transforming education, health and family through nature.

Circle of Life Rediscovery

We provide exciting and highly beneficial nature-centred learning and therapeutic experiences for young people, adults, and families in Sussex woodlands, along with innovative continuing professional development for the health, well being and teaching professionals who are supporting them.

Messy Maths – take learning outside on National Number Day

National Number Day

Next Friday is the NSPCC’s National Number Day. I hope this inspires you to join thousands of schools for a mega maths-inspired fundraising day and raise money for the NSPCC. Below are just a couple of examples of how to take maths outside!

Leaf Multiplication

Thank goodness for leaves! How would we learn our multiplication tables without them.

Leaf Multiplication

“Hmm.” I hear you say. “I managed just fine, thank you very much.”

Maybe so, but let’s face it. There’s a lot of rote learning to be done. We need to find different ways of helping children learn their tables and have fun whilst doing so.

The added bonus of using leaves is that you can appreciate the beauty of the structure and learn which one is which in the process.

3 leaves have 15 leaflets

It’s compound leaves that seem to work best. These are ones like a horse chestnut leaf. These have lovely “hand-shaped” leaves each with 5 leaflets. So 1 leaf has 5 leaflets, 2 leaves have 10 leaflets, 3 leaves have 15 leaflets, etc.

 

National Number Day

You often find the leaves of buttercups are arranged in trios.

If these leaves look a bit odd, it’s because I placed them face down to stop them blowing away! 4 x 3 (trios) = 12.

 

Ash leaves are more variable

 

Ash leaves are more variable. However I managed to acquire a nice collection of leaves with 9 leaflets. 3 x 9=27.

 

bracken fronds

 

For the very able mathematicians in your class, perhaps they would like to create multiplication sums for bracken fronds…

 

I think there’s lots of possibilities here. Can your class find compound leaves to represent all the multiplication tables from 2 to 10? Can they each create a sum, then have a competition to see who can solve all the sums the quickest? What challenges spring to your mind?

Stick Logic

One ongoing challenge for teachers is ensuring that children who finish earlier than others have something meaningful to move onto. There’s lots of possibilities outside and this stick activity is one such example. It can be completed in pairs or by children working alone. It helps if children know they can look at the work that others are doing.

The children need to find 9 sticks of about the same length. Conveniently I have a big stash of cut sticks.

Take 1: 5 triangles – not bad for starters!

Take 1: 5 triangles – not bad for starters!

If you do not have such luxury items, then challenge children to find or create 9 sticks of equal length. Twigs are fine too.

The challenge is pretty simple: how many triangles is it possible to make using 9 sticks? I have no idea, but the photos give you an indication of how I went about the task!

 

 

Take 3: 7 triangles – getting better

7 triangles – getting better

This logic activity can also be ongoing over several days. I like coming up with variations on a theme and asking children to do the same.

For example, what differences would we discover if:

 

 

  • We used 9 sticks of different lengths.
  • We used less than 9 sticks or more than 9 sticks – Is there a pattern to what we discover?
  • We chose a different shape to create, e.g. a square.

Take 6: I can count 18 triangles but I’m getting fuzzy eyes!

Take 6: I can count 18 triangles but I’m getting fuzzy eyes!

All-in-all it can be quite an absorbing task. I’m not sure this is the maximum number possible. If you better 18, I’d love to know how!

I hope this equips and inspires you to take maths outside on National Number Day!

By Juliet Robertson

Get real, get messy, get maths, get outside!

Come and spend a wonderful day in the woods, with Juliet Robertson, the author of the multi-award winning book, ‘Messy Maths‘. Together you will explore the five “R’s” of Messy Maths:

  • Rights – every child is mathematical and has the right to have learn about and explore maths.
  • Routines – embedding key maths concepts into your daily routines.
  • Resources – open-ended, low cost materials which can be used in lots of different ways with different ages and abilities of children.
  • Responsibilities of the adults – how to follow children’s lead and articulate the learning which happens through a play-based approach. It also includes ways of involving families in developing a child’s love of maths.
  • Re-imagining your outdoor space – developing maths-rich provision in any outdoor space be this a concrete jungle, woodland paradise or something else.

This content is based upon the book, Messy Maths: A Playful and Outdoor Approach for the Early Years. It is particularly suitable for those who work with children aged 3-6 yrs old. It takes a sensible approach that provides lots of practical ways to ensure your maths provision is engaging and interesting outside and meets the needs of the children with whom you work.

This all takes place within the context of sustainability using the environment, natural materials and what is around us in any outdoor space.

Date: 21st May 2020.
Lead Facilitator: Juliet Robertson
Location:
 Mill Woods, near Laughton, East Sussex, BN8 6BP
Cost: £120. If you are attending the Literacy Day also, the fee is £220 for the two days.*
Time: 09.00 – 15.30
Booking: Please book online here.
More information: Please see our website.
*Juliet is also running a Literacy Day on 22nd May – ‘Lighting the Literacy Fire’. Please see the website for details. If you would like to book both courses with Juliet, the fee is reduced to £220 for both courses.

About Juliet

Juliet is one of Scotland’s leading education consultants who specialises in outdoor learning and play. She works at a national level delivering training, giving keynote speeches, leading and supporting innovative outdoor projects and writing content for websites, documents and case studies.   She is passionate about enabling schools, play organisations and early years settings to provide quality outdoor learning and play opportunities for children and young people. Read more here.


Transforming education, health and family through nature.
Circle of Life RediscoveryWe provide exciting and highly beneficial nature-centred learning and therapeutic experiences for young people, adults, and families in Sussex woodlands, along with innovative continuing professional development for the health, well being and teaching professionals who are supporting them.
Email: info@circleofliferediscovery.com
Tel: 01273 814226

Forest Kindergarten

Breathing Life into Literacy

By Louise Hack

Education and lives have changed hugely over the last 50 years. We now live in a fast world- fast food, fast internet access, firing off a quick email to numerous people and flicking between many screens. Our brains have developed into high speed trains which somehow are able to cope with constant quick episodes of conversation, information and interactions without moving from the comfort of our seats.

Education seems to mirror this more and more and there is an ever- increasing rush to put pen to paper, be still, write at length, test and assess with less and less time to connect, explore and wonder. However, when you strip it right back learning is a process and a messy one at that! We need to consider the core elements of learning and surely the rights of the child and we need to put them at the heart of our teaching.

They must therefore include the following:

  • Making connections (people, nature)
  • Active play and learning (time, space, following own interests and fascinations)
  • Exploration
  • Developing self-emotions, confidence, resilience, problem solving and independence

And what better place to enhance and develop these areas? Yes you’ve got it – the
outdoors!

I believe that moving literacy into the outdoor environment inspires children,
stimulates their imagination, makes sense of the world around them that they will
ultimately be reading and writing about. In this article, we are going to explore how to integrate literacy into nature by using the big outdoor classroom.

So…. get ready, lift yourselves up from your desks, pull on your waterproofs and be
prepared to get your hands dirty as you open the doors to literacy learning beyond
the classroom walls. Go forth… explore, discover and wonder and I guarantee you
will notice significant changes with engagement, energy, ownership and emotional
involvement- both yours and the children you teach..

Rituals and personal stories – on a recent Forest Kindergarten training event with
Juliet Robertson we discussed the importance of rituals in play and behaviour.
Rituals can create order and help us to create sense to our world. All animals seek
rituals and even my gorgeous but slightly anxious Ozzy dog seeks familiar and
ordered events on his walks and wanderings. I have learnt to follow his lead – who
am I to try and avoid one of the sniffed but much loved bunny holes!

As a child rituals were an important part of my world and I still remember them fondly from the chants we used to say as we crossed bridges to school to the gentle shake of a low lying branch to wish the old tree a good day. Rituals are repetitive, help children to feel secure, tune them into their environment and aid transitions. Rituals help to form personal histories and stories which in turn aids storytelling. So when out and about with little ones – look around you and consider how you can create stories with the places you visit regularly. Tune in with your world – really look and explore. Children will never forget all the little things.

Forest Kindergarten - creating charactersCreating characters – creating characters or woodland creatures is a lovely activity for young children to do quite early on using the natural materials that they find.

It can help them to feel safe to have a little creature that lives in the woods who they come to find each week and someone that they can have adventures with. It can also help to develop empathy, friendship and relationships.

 

By creating a character hands on, they can start to develop the descriptive language whilst in the moment of making for example “it has a bumpy, pointy head and soft, smooth skin.” It is much easier to describe when you are creating something hands on rather than looking at a 2D picture of a character from a book. In addition to this you can now create the characters story.

Storytelling – Storytelling connects. It connects us to our past, to each other, our families and our world. Here are two examples of ways to unravel stories with young children:

Story Worlds - Forest KindergartenStory small worlds – try creating a natural story world

*You could create a place for your creature to live in. Does it live in a dark cave? Does it like to live up high or underground? Is your character shy or does it like to have lots of people to live nearby?

 

*Or retell a story using a story map that you have made- track a story adventure by creating the journey from start to finish.

Story sticks – This is a great activity and one of my favourites for creating a story journey.  When out for a long walk, collect a stick about the length of your lower arm and take some elastic bands or string with you.   Wrap the elastic bands/ string around the stick and as you enjoy your walk, your children can collect treasures and attach them with the elastic bands.  This is a great activity for encouraging children to become inquisitive about the world around them, it helps them to tune in and explore and REALLY look at what’s beneath their feet.  At the end they could make up a story using their collected treasures to remember the steps they have taken on their journey. Alternatively, this stick can become… hmmm… a chance to inspire their imagination!

Describing our world – we can have high expectations that all children will be able
to describe the world around them. But how can anyone truly describe a scene
unless they have experienced it first hand? Multi-sensory experiences aid the brain
to connect and engage which as a result associates a meaning and an emotional
connection. Therefore, if you want someone to use descriptive language in a story,
poem or passage to describe, for example, the thundering rain or windy weather,
then they need to experience it first-hand not just through a picture. They need to
feel the wind on their skin, feel a sense of cold, have their hair whip around their
face, feel the air almost knocked out of them and even struggle to walk into the wind.

Learning by doing is exciting, it allows us to create meaning. When you next have a
snowy or windy day then yes, by all means think about safety but also open your
eyes to the fact that this may be a child’s first experience of such an event. A year or so ago when we had our last ‘big’ snow shower, I took a class of Reception aged
children outside to experience snow. They had never experienced this other than
through watching TV, Frozen the movie in reality. After a little while of exploring, they were telling me how cold they were, how the snow had turned hard and that it wasn’t soft anymore. Children need to discover, see things change before their eyes to encourage vocabulary and the depth to write about subjects in the future.

Tuning in and listening – early phonics

Tuning in and listening – early phonicsIn a previous job role as a consultant, I worked in a variety of different Early Years settings focusing on the very early years of literacy. One of the most significant outcomes of some research that I was involved in, was around the decline of ability to filter sounds due to increased environmental noise e.g. babies finding it hard to tune into their mothers voice or a toddler hearing a set of keys fall to the floor.

 

 

It is hugely important that we build in time to ‘really’ listen to what sounds are around us. Noise is a part of our lives and so much so that during a recent remote holiday to Devon it almost hurt my ears when there was a lack of sound!

International Literacy Day 2019In the outdoors there is a cacophony of different sounds – some natural and some man made. The difference to tuning into them outdoors rather than indoors is that the sounds are not so strong and overpowering because there is more open space for sound to travel around. Nature has a rich orchestra and is a great way of allowing children the time to sit quietly and record either by pictures or marks on a page the different natural sounds/ conversations they hear. You will be surprised that when you really ‘tune in’ how many different sounds you can hear.

 

In addition to this, allowing children to have the time to understand that everything can make a different sound – one stone dropping into a cool pool will not sound the same as another. Everything is different and unique – so catch your breath and relish this time.

Books to support literacy learning outdoors (some of my favourites):

Stanley’s Stick – Neal Layton
The listening walk – Paul Showers
Leaf Man –
We’re going on a leaf hunt – Steve Metzger
Mud – Mary Lyn Ray
Snail Trail – Ruth Brown
Yucky Worms – Vivian French
Wild – Emily Hughes
Bog Baby – Jennie Willis
Into the Forest – Anthony Browne
Tree: seasons come and seasons go – Patricia Hegarty (Bee and Moon books also
by the same author)
Leaf – Sandra Dieckmann

So finally…

Breathe the outdoors into our literacy learning!Outdoor experiences allow us to breathe… the pace slows and we start to respond to the natural rhythms around us. The outdoors allows us to connect and deepen our sensory experiences which help to make meaning to the world in which we live. We develop our talk, negotiation/ problem solving skills and tune into the natural environment.

We can develop an abundance of language and we can also develop our personal histories/ stories in a playful way. The outdoors allows us to develop the link and connection between ourselves, our adventures and stories.

So lets breathe the outdoors into our literacy learning and inspire and engage our children with many different skills whilst they play and explore.

Louise Hack, Whoosh Learning Director, Educational Consultant & Circle of Life Rediscovery Trainer.

Find out more about our upcoming Forest Kindergarten Training:

FOREST KINDERGARTEN ‘OPENING UP THE OUTDOORS’ TRAINING

A two day introductory course based on the Scottish Forest Kindergarten Model.

Key Overview:
Forest Kindergarten TrainingForest Kindergarten is modelled on a Forest School approach and is based around child-centred learning through play in the Early Years. Forest Kindergartens offer young children frequent visits and regular play opportunities in a local, natural setting all year round – this could be a woodland, park or even a beach!

The aim of this two-day training is to develop Early Years practitioners’ skills to enable and empower them to make regular visits to a local green space/woodland.

Date: 6th & 13th February 2020 OR 7th & 14th May 2020.
Facilitators: Marina Robb & Louise Hack
Location: Mill Woods, near Laughton, East Sussex.
Time: 09.00 – 16.30.
Cost: £175 for the two days.
Booking: Please book online.

Key Content:

  • How to prepare both yourselves as practitioners and your young children to go to a green space.
  • Setting up a suitable site and setting boundaries with children.
  • Preparing for risks (risk benefit model).
  • Research on the benefits of playing and learning outdoors.
  • Games and songs to support children with the routines of regular visits to a green space.

Please visit the website for full details.


Transforming education, health and family through nature.

Circle of Life RediscoveryCircle of Life Rediscovery provides exciting and highly beneficial nature-centred learning and therapeutic experiences for young people, adults, and families in Sussex woodlands, along with innovative continuing professional development for the health, well being and teaching professionals who are supporting them.