Like many other teachers, I love and appreciate children’s books. Whenever I walk into a bookshop, the children’s section is a “must visit” with or without my son in tow.
When I run outdoor literacy courses, I set aside time to use books as a basis for outdoor work. In the past I’ve found them to be a great inspiration for creative outdoor activity – either structured or unstructured both for children of all ages and myself. Most early years staff will talk enthusiastically about “We’re going on a bear hunt” and some of the ideas participants have told me about have been incredibly creative and hugely enjoyable.
Choosing Books to Read Outside
Neil Griffiths, the founder of Storysack, recommends using the following criteria for selecting a book:
- A strong story line
- Quality illustrations
- Can be read aloud with ease
- A content and interest level appropriate to young children
- Children’s favourites
- Recommended by parents
- Selected by staff as quality picture books
- Recommended by a local bookshop
Props to Accompany Books
Any resources used outside will get worn more quickly. Cheap and cheerful resources are strongly recommended rather than beautiful matching games, etc. Consider providing:
- Puppets and soft toys that are machine washable
- Laminated photos, poems, backdrops and information sheets
- Games that are derived from natural materials such as sticks, stones, shells, etc.
- Resources with a clear local link, e.g. local wildlife soft toys
- Waterproof or plastic playmats
- Open ended resources such as a piece of material which can be used in many different ways
- A plastic sleeve or jacket for your book
- Different books lend themselves to different outdoor activities. Some are naturally cross-curricular and can result in children initiating a range of activities. Others may only have a link in one or two different areas. The advantage of a book-based activity are that children get repeated exposure to the storyline, characters, setting and ideas. This helps reinforce many pre-reading skills.