Outdoor Literacy Workshops at Mackie Academy

17 November 2010 · 1 comment

in Literacy Outdoors

Yesterday, Mackie Academy was packed full of staff from all the Stonehaven schools to participate in a variety of workshops. It generated a lot of discussion in the context of a Curriculum for Excellence and the Real David Cameron concluded the day with a fine keynote presentation that focused on the principles, issues updates and possible ways forward. (This person is an education consultant and should not be confused with the “Need to Get Real” David Cameron, who is the British Prime Minister).

I was running three workshops about outdoor literacy. The outdoor parts, when this occurred, focused just on poetry because of the tight time schedules. Here’s the activities:

A Number Poem

This works well for group work and with very young children. Ask children to find a specific number of an object of their choosing. For example one child might have the number 5 and choose to bring 5 pebbles to the gathering space. Another child might have the number 4 and may bring 4 sticks.

Once each child has their objects lay them out in the following way:
Number – Adjective – Alliteration – Object (Noun)

Five, smooth, pink pebbles
Four, sharp, stumpy sticks
Three, black, fluffy feathers
Two, crunchy, lovely leaves
One, tiny, delicate daisy

See What I Found?

This poetry structure can be started by having a pot of adjectives. The children pick an adjective from the pot and then find an object that matches the describing word. From here the poem can be created as follows:
First line: See what I found?
Second line: (name of object)
Third line: (adjectives and/or descriptive phrase)
Fourth line: (tell where you found it)
Fifth line: (make a comment or question about it)

See what I found?
Slowly growing, creeping
Over the bark of the tree
Will it still be there when the tree dies?


A mesostic is a kind of poem based upon a name. Any letter in the word can be highlighted and when these are read down a word is formed. The mesostic word can be thought of as a stem, and the other letters of the word come of unevenly to the sides as branches. Because of this mesostics are often written about plants.

The inspiration and suggestion for using mesostics outside came from Alec Finlay, an artist, poet and publisher based in NE England. He has undertaken an number of projects that involve exploring words outside. His website provides lots of ideas for other explorations that combine place-based art, literacy and design.

For other practical reminders about taking literacy outdoors, I blogged about reading outdoors in September and last week I had a guest post on the Everybody Writes blog. Everybody Writes is a project run in partnership by the Booktrust and The National Literacy Trust and funded by the Department for Education (DfE).

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

child central station November 19, 2010 at 13:48

Juliet- Your blog continues to inspire. Thank you for finding and sharing so many wonderful outdoor options! I gave you a blog award today!


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