Learning Outdoors: Free Gruffalo Teacher’s Pack

Having my own children and especially working within a school has made me realise that keeping children on task at such a young age can be difficult, it is hard to keep children engaged especially those with a short attention span. Taking lessons outdoors can engage children keeping them motivated. The experience of an outdoor lesson becomes more memorable and at an early age children learn through play.

The Forestry commission have launched a free downloadable Gruffalo Pack for teachers, full of activities based around the popular Julia Donaldson story The Gruffalo. Aimed at Early Years, Foundation stage and Key Stage 1, the activities are designed to be taken outdoors, aiming to encourage children to explore the nature world in the forest. All the activities have been designed to be used outdoors, in your local woods, park or school grounds.

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“Following Forestry Commission, England’s research, 83% of teachers said they’d would like to participate in more outdoor learning if it was more accessible. FCE looked at what prohibited teachers from teaching in the woodlands/ forest and how they could overcome these barriers to increase the ability of schools to teach outdoors when they wish to do so. The result, The Gruffalo’s teachers pack”

The Gruffalo Teacher’s Pack aims to teach learners about forests and how they are looked after for the benefits of people and wildlife. It has 4 sections:

1. Introduction: Scene setting

• This section will enable learners to get to know the Gruffalo story, the characters and the forest environment.

2. Programme 1 – Explore and discover the forest

• EYFS – Understanding the world; Mathematics;
• Geography KS1 – geographical vocabulary; geographical skills; place knowledge

3. Programme 2 – Design, make and evaluate

• EYFS – Physical development; Expressive arts & design
• Design & technology KS1 – design, make, build, evaluate

4. Programme 3 – All about animals

• EYFS – Understanding the world; Communication and language
• Science Year 1 – animals, humans, senses

Each section is full of ideas and tips and set out as a lesson plan that you can follow. Each section has a conclusion at the end, what you have investigated and what you have learned about living things. Covering areas of EYFS, curriculum linked. In each programme there are ideas on what you can talk about and also hands on activities. They are easy to follow and full of information, you will also receive the activity sheets to go along with each activity.

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The benefits of outdoor learning

  • Taking lessons outdoors engages and motivates children
  • Makes the learning more real by putting the subject into a context that they can grasp
  • Nurtures creativity and the imagination
  • The experience becomes more memorable, it becomes a hands on lesson
  • All children benefit from the lesson regardless of language, SEN and level of learning
  • Aids personal and social development
  • Being outside, children become more aware of the environment around them.
  • Widens their vocabulary and becomes more confident
  • Engages children with a short attention span

After reading the story to children in school and my own children, we took to the outdoors to make a story map of the Gruffalo. We followed the hands on activity from programme 1, to explore and discover the forest. The curriculum links for this part are mathematics and understanding of the world and it covers KS1 geography. We had to find a flat area and by using 4 big sticks make a frame. Using natural materials that were found from within the surroundings, we recreated the map.

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The stone is the mouse. Turn left and you reach the Fox’s underground home, go straight up and you come to the Owl’s tree, turn right and then you at the Snake’s logpile house and then comeback down to the Gruffalos cave.

We used twigs that had fallen to the ground, moss from the floor, leaves, bark from the trees and stones.

The children loved running around and working together to create their map. They were engaged and worked as a team, discussing what they should look for and what should represent the items in the story. As they were creating the map they retold the story how they remembered it, becoming familiar with the scenes and the forest around them.

After we had made the map we then went on the look out for any signs of the gruffalo and the other characters.

Learning about the forest and the environment becomes so much easier if you could explore it.

To get your paws on the Gruffalo Teacher’s Pack visit http://www.forestry.gov.uk/gruffaloteaching

We was sent a copy of the pack and the book for the purpose of this review.

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Two year old progress check

From the ages of 24 months to 36 months old, children who are in a setting, normally by their key worker or practitioner are given a progress check. The check, which is a short written summary, aims to give a clear, all round picture of the child’s development. It should cover all areas of learning and development in the EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage), Physical development, Communication and language, and Personal, social and emotional development.

Oliver is 30 months old, and today he came home with his Two Year Progress Check from his childminder, he has his Two and a Half year check with his health visitor in two weeks time.

I am really happy with the outcome of his Progress check, and I am hoping that I will be saying the same in two weeks time. The characteristics of effective learning areas that have been covered are playing and exploring, active learning, and creative and thinking critically.

The check tells me that the childminder has a lot of knowledge of Oliver, and gives me views and information on Oliver’s development, it shows Oliver’s participation in his learning and development, and also consists of observations on what Oliver can do independently and consistently.

The outcome of his check tells me that:

Oliver now has a vast and wide range of vocabulary and can communicate well

He understands routine and he has settled well into the childminder setting as well as the pre school that he has recently just started at

He is confident

He can kick a ball and also catch a large ball, he can climb, and he can undress himself

He can feed himself and drink from a cup

Oliver is beginning to use the potty and knows when he needs to use it

He loves going to the park and jumping in muddy puddles (thank you Peppa)

Oliver can concentrate for up to 10 minutes on a particular activity, and can correctly match up toy animals to their pictures on a farm mat

Oliver can complete a 10 piece puzzle, independently

He loves to look at books and listens well to stories, He knows that print id from left to right and will mimic this in his mark making

He can recognise and count up to 12, but knows that number go on up to 50. He loves to count items out, especially his trains.

He recognises the odd letters, A S P M O T C and B, he says the sounds as well as the name.

Oliver’s development stage is 30-50 months

Oliver’s next agreed steps for progression with his childminder and myself are to visit the local library for a more wider choice of books, to continue to encourage him to become fully potty trained and to introduce more challenging puzzles.

I love reading his progress checks, as I am at work during the day, it makes me feel a lot more comfortable knowing that he is getting on well when i am not around. I am hoping I will be just as happy at his next one 🙂

 

 

 

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