On many of my courses, I offer a booklet of nature play ideas on different outdoor themes. These are adaptations of many of the blog posts, so click on the links below to find out more.
Linking books to nature has several aims when it comes to supporting children’s interest in books:
- The books can be read when children have been engaged in a particular aspect of nature. This can help children hear language used and recall the fun they have had. It makes connections between their experience and the narrative in the book, helping to foster conceptual understanding.
- The books can be a springboard to nature play. Some children like an idea to get them going, such as hunting for a perfect rock.
- The books and the play ideas can become part of a book bag that goes home. The suggestions are free and thus saves buying jigsaws and other resources that run the risk of getting lost.
- The ideas and books demonstrate that developing a love of books and the outdoors goes hand in hand.
- The books and nature play suggestions can be used as one part of the transition between nursery and school. Each theme can be used to explore a new outdoor space – I’ve added these suggestions below.
- Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert is one of my favourite books as it provides a spring board to creating a range of characters through play.
- Ferdie and the Falling Leaves by Julia Rowlinson is a sweet story about a fox that tries to save leaves that are falling from a tree.
- You can access 10 ideas for leaf play and many more leafy suggestions here.
- Transition: I wonder if there are any trees in your new school grounds. Let’s see if we can find and check them out.
- Everybody Needs a Rock by Byrd Baylor. Brilliant book. The advice is timeless and will send you on a life long quest
- If You Find a Rock by Peggy Christian. Poetic language about the uses of a rock
- You can access 10 ideas for rock, stone and pebble play too!
- Transition: Why not pick your favourite stone from nursery and keep it in your pocket when you visit your new school. Your teacher can ask everyone to share a rock from their nursery and talk about what they liked doing there.
- Stick Man by Julia Donaldson. A well-known classic.
- Not a Stick by Antoinette Portis. Useful for giving children ideas about what to do with a stick.
- 10 little stick activities provide a good starting point.
- Transition: what’s your favourite game to play with sticks? Can you share it with your new friends and teachers?
Shadows and sunshine
- My Shadow by Robert Louis Stevenson. The classic poem illustrated as a book
- Suddenly by Colin McNaughton. Good fun – everyone’s shadow could be a monster of some sort!
- Shadow play – 10 ideas – so much fun to be had!
- Transition: Find out where are the sunniest places in your new school ground. Enjoy playing shadow games there.
Beaches and sand
- On my Beach there are Many Pebbles by Leo Lionni. A word free book…
- Where the Forest Meets the Sea by Jeannie Baker. A beautiful book that helps children consider environmental issues
- Beach play – 10 ideas: many work all year round regardless of the weather
- Transition: Hold a sandcastle building competition in the sand pit in your new school. Think about what materials you will need to decorate your sandcastle.
- Sharing a Shell by Julia Donaldson. A good accompaniment to rock pooling and learning about different creatures
- Sally and the Limpet by Simon James. Discover what happens when Sally gets a limpet stuck on her finger…
- Shells – 10 ideas. Good suggestions for enjoying finding and playing with shells
- Transition: Just like a shell that needs returning to a beach, don’t forget to visit your nursery once you move onto school. Is there an agreed visiting date or event?
- The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. What to do when snow falls, wherever you live
- One Snowy Night by Nick Butterworth. One of the Percy the Park Keeper stories
- Snow play – 15+ ideas… get ready to get outside as soon as the snowflakes appear in the sky
- Transition: freeze a little bit of snow and bring it along to your new school when it snows to join the freshly fallen snow.
- The Rain Stomper by Addie Boswell – the language of playing out in the rain and enjoying the puddles
- 10 puddle play ideas – lots of suggestions, but I know of less good books!
- Transition: How many puddles will you pass on your walk to school on a rainy day?
- Mud by Mary Lyn Ray
- Mud Puddle by Robert Munsch. All about a girl who finds a mud puddle won’t leave her alone
- 10 ideas for mud play – a must visit blog post for International Mud Day – 29th June
- Transition: assess the quality and quantity mud in your new school grounds. Is there sufficient of good quality. If not, have a think about what needs to happen – is a mud pit needed? How about a mud kitchen?
- The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr. Wonderfully entertaining, even if dated.
- Play in the dark – 10 ideas – some are even quite reflective 🙂
- Transition: Find out what time you finish school… will it be dark in winter at this time of the day?
From the above I’m sure you’ll have many better ideas… make the most of brilliant books and great times in nature to make the most of both! I’d love to know about your recommendations for books and good play ideas that go hand-in-hand.