A quick internet search or time spent in this sector tells you that the world is not short of books offering activities to do in the great outdoors. However, credit must be given to the authors of ‘Learning with Nature’ who have written a book which stands out in this sea of titles and offers a thoroughly enjoyable and useful read.
For a teacher or parent embarking on a new outdoor journey, the layout of the activities is a god-send. The sections divide into clear, easy to navigate categories and each activity offers instructions, variations and a fantastic box entitled ‘invisible learning’ which outlines learning outcomes from which teachers and practitioners can ascertain which activities will best suit their objectives.
The activities themselves are the book’s second key strengths. Stalwarts of the Environmental Educationalist’s toolkit are mixed with some really creative and novel ideas. As with most books of this type it is hard to write a comprehensive instruction and with some activities a test run would be advisable (‘Badger knows best’ and ‘Pyrite wands’ are two brilliant activities which would benefit from this). The book lends itself really well to being the focus of an inset day. Leave a copy in the staff room and ask each participant to choose and lead one activity on the day. Seeing how these go will build confidence, iron out any gaps in knowledge and inspire use of the book back in the classroom.
The authors’ passions are tangible throughout ‘Learning with nature’. However at times the introduction aims to cover too much, touching on great concepts, such as ‘the art of questioning’ but not fully managing to communicate the point to someone new to this area.
This is a book written by three women with a wide range of experiences in the field and a real passion for inspiring confidence in the outdoors. The outcome is a relevant resource for those working across the age ranges, from activities that help explain food chains to KS2, to challenging and novel outdoor ideas for older children and grown up children alike. This book has a lot to offer in an easily accessible format which is hard to beat and is highly recommended as a must for any school bookshelf.
Learning with Nature. Marina Robb, Victoria Mew and Anna Richardson; ISBN: 978 0 85784 239 8; Green Books; £17.99; Available from: Amazon, Green Books.