Trolls, treasure and outdoor learning

6 February 2010 · 4 comments

in Literacy Outdoors, Nature Play & Learning

If your class is studying Scandinavian countries or undertaking a Vikings project, then a wee focus on trolls can be a lot of fun. Trolls are part of Scandinavian folklore and any child who has read the films or read the Harry Potter books knows a little about trolls.

Background information

Lots can be found on the internet. Trolls don’t see very well. Trolls hate the daylight. Some people say that if trolls are caught in the sun, they will turn to stone. The worst thing you could ever do to a troll is be happy. They hate happiness and things that make people happy. They tend to live in caves but some may be found in other dark places such as under bridges.

Outdoor activities

When the class is moving outside, encourage them to walk like a troll – arms hung low,slightly hunched shoulders, cross look and glum face.

Once the class is outside, everyone should practice being miserable. Walkabout the playground. Whenever the teacher blows a whistle find a person, look at them and say “Hello, how are you?” Answer in a glum voice “Alright, I suppose, etc”, “fine” See how many different ways you can answer. After a few minutes, stop the class and get children to share their troll voices and actions.

Caught in the sunlight

The class lines up at at one end of the playground. One child stands at the other side of the playground with a torch. Whenever the child turns his back, the class can start creeping forward towards child with the torch. When child turns around and shines the torch, children must freeze. If a child moves they must go back to the start. The game ends when a child can touch the torch.

Troll’s treasure game

One child is blindfolded and crouches in the middle of the circle of children to guard her treasure. The treasure can be any collection of objects such as stones, or even 3D shapes if you want the reinforcement opportunities! One by one the children take turns to try and steal one piece of treasure. If the troll touches them, they must give up their quest. The troll may not touch the treasure. She may only guard it. Get children to discuss strategies for stealing the treasure. This activity can be self-directed with many groups of children.

Which treasure is mine?

Everyone stands in a circle holding a stone in each hand behind their backs. An adult or a child who isn’t part of the circle counts to twenty quickly. The children in the circle close their eyes and start passing stone to their left as quickly as possible. Once the counting ends, the aim is for each child to have a stone in each hand. Those without a stone in each hand are out. The rules can be varied, e.g. if a child has more than one stone in each hand, he or she is out. Another option is for the child who is counting to walk around the outside of the circle, feeding stones into the game. Discuss strategies for children helping each other to achieve whole group success.

Gathering treasure

Split a class into groups of around 4-6. Each group has a hoop placed at the edge of the playground. Scatter unifix cubes, stones or other “treasure” in the playground. When the whistle blows, the children start gathering treasure one piece at a time and take it back to their hoop. When the whistle blows again, the group must gather round their hoop and start counting their treasure. The teacher can assign different values, e.g. each stone is worth two points (if counting in twos is needing practice – change this for other multiplication tables). For older classes, each colour of cube or stone can be worth a different amount, e.g. blue cubes – 1 point, green cubes – 10 points, red cubes – 100 points. Oh! That’s place value work!

The above is just a small selection of the possibilities that exist. If any teacher has a troll collection, then now is the time for them to resurface from the attic (another dark place) and have the dust brushed out of their hair! Let the children search around the school grounds for a good home for a troll and use this as a springboard to a descriptive writing activity.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

lmhtob February 6, 2010 at 11:04

Couple of games I used to play with Brownies could be adapted.

One person was lighthouse, one the ship. Once the ship was blindfolded the lighthouse would be placed some distance away and everyone else would sit between ship and light house – to guide the ship towards it the lighthouse says “beep beep”, if the ship strays too close to a rock the rock says “splash splash”

Sleeping Beauty
Place 2 chairs in the middle of the hall, Beauty is “asleep” on the chairs (cover with a jacket), others are lined up at end of hall, select one at a time to creep towards Beauty to wake her up, if Beauty hears them approach she claps her hand, they then crouch down where they are. What Brownies loved most was if no one made it to Beauty to wake her up, they would all get up and charge towards her to wake her.

Sure these could be adapted for trolls!


CreativeSTAR February 6, 2010 at 11:46


Thanks very much for your comments – I think you are right in that your suggested games would work very well in the context of trolls.

I hope others will contribute their ideas too.

Best wishes


Teacher Tom February 6, 2010 at 14:11

Great ideas, Juliet! I might have to adapt them a bit for my preschoolers, but then again I adapt everything!

I’m excited to give them a try.

Inspired by you and others in the outdoor school movement, my parent community has agreed to experiment with spending half our days outside — and this is in rainy Seattle. If we like it, we may move to 80 percent outdoors for next year. Thanks.


CreativeSTAR February 6, 2010 at 20:43

Hi Tom

You are so right in that most activities can be adapt to the needs of different children – age, ability, number of children, etc.

I’m wondering whether it’s worth chatting about some of the issues around moving to 50% outdoors. Are you able to have children inside and out simultaneously?

I’m on skype juliet.robertson. Alternatively contact me via the email on my website

Go for it!


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