Often I am asked about resources for outdoor literacy. Thus it seemed to make good sense to put these into a blog post for anyone to access. It would be helpful, if you know of others, to get in touch so that the list is kept up-to-date.
Please note – this blog post is for information and awareness-raising so that you know what is out there to support your outdoor literacy work. It is not a recommended reading list or set of resources. Use your professional judgement to decide whether a resource is fit for purpose.
1. Developing Early Literacy Skills Outdoors by Marianne Sargent Published in 2015 – suitable for early years. This book has been less widely-publicised and is part of a series , which focus on literacy, science and maths outside.
2. Outdoor Literacy by Ros Bailey, Helen Bromley and Lynn Broadbent Published in 2006 – suitable for early years. A spiral bound book with 50 exciting starting points for outdoor literacy experiences.
3. Let’s Take a Story Book Outside by Ruth Ludlow Published in 2008 – suitable for early years. Exciting ways to promote outdoor creativity. I don’t know this one, but I presume it’s about using a story book as a springboard to other experiences.
4. Learning on your Doorstep by Isabel Hopwood-Stevens Published in 2012 – suitable for KS1. Stimulating writing through creative play outdoors with 5-9 year olds. It has six projects each with six outdoor sessions, ideally suited for a woodland but adaptable to other spaces. The themes include, amongst others, the Enchanted Forest, Celtic Life and Animal World. There is a springboard suggestion to begin each week, a suggested activity to take place in the woodland or outdoor space and ideas for writing activities back in the classroom. Many of the topics involve reading a simple story – which is provided – or receiving and sending messages to various imaginary characters. Most of the activities outside involve an element of reading and practical tasks such as making natural dyes from plants, creating story sticks and building mini shelters. I particularly enjoyed the behaviour advice where it arose as it painted a good picture in my head!
5. Literacy in Forest School – Self-published by Patrick Harrison. Most suitable for those developing early literacy skills in particular letters and sounds, EYFS2 and KS1. Beautiful, friendly, inspiring book with drawn illustrations.
6. Celebrating Nature by Gordon MacLellan Published in 2003 – suitable for primary school. This book is not easy to get hold of and is not strictly a book about literacy. However Gordon aka Creeping Toad’s ideas are creative and seeped in language. For me this book was the gateway into outdoor literacy with older children. Try Gordon’s blog to purchase a book in the first instance. Also check out his Facebook page for ideas and inspiration. His workshops are excellent and will inspire you to get creative with words, ideas and interacting with nature outside.
7. KS1 Go Teach Outdoors by Sam Lovegrove and KS2 Go Teach Outdoors by Lynn Hannay Published in 2017. These are 64-page combinations of literacy and maths activities for those who work in KS1 or KS2. I have not purchased a copy of either but you can look inside each one on Amazon.
8. English in the School Grounds By Brian Keaney Published in 1993 – suitable for all primary. This is a really dated book but in many ways the first one published about using literacy outside and is more for those interested in the history of this area of outdoor provision.
9. Write Out of the Classroom by Colin McaFarlane Published in 2013, best for middle to upper primary. This is more narrative than lesson plan but lots of enthusiasm from the author.
10. National Curriculum Outdoors Series. This is a set of books covering KS1 and then Y3, Y4, Y5 and Y6. Each contains a series of lessons within a subject, including maths. A useful starting point for getting outside as a class teacher.
12. Learning through Landscapes literacy downloads Published as and when, suitable for many age ranges from early years to early secondary. For many years, this national UK school grounds charity have produced lesson plans and ideas to help you with maths outside. Most are free to download, but some require you to be a member, which is less than £15 per year.
13. Twinkl Published as and when, suitable for many age ranges from early years to early secondary. Recently Twinkl have produced more outdoor plans and activities which include literacy outside. Use the search engine to narrow down to what you are looking for.
14. Wild About Learning – An Outdoor Literacy and Numeracy Pack for Years 1-6. Clear photos and illustrations and a range of suggested activities for each year group. Free to download, 90 pages (yay!)
15 Hampshire OutdoorsTrailblazers: The link takes you to the full range of free downloads. Some are original to this organisation but also, it’s a curated collection of other suggestions to be found on the web!
16. Creative STAR Literacy Outdoors PDF. I found this on the Abernet website. It was published in 2010 so my thinking has moved on considerably in the past decade but it’s still a good starting point.
17. Wildtime Learning – Free collection of resources, many very simple and doable in a range of subjects. Use the filter to find the literacy suggestions.
18. Lost Words. The JOHN MUIR Award have created lots of outdoor literacy resources to support the Lost Words book written by Robert McFarlane.
19. Poetry in Motion This is a CD of reliable outdoor literacy activities.
20. Thinking Child Outdoor Literacy Pack by Sue Dixon. This is a popular download: 100+ Ideas for Outdoor Literacy
21. Tales in Your Pocket and Songs from the Wood – This CD and card pack is literacy rich. Created by storyteller and Forest School practitioner, Grace Banks, they collectively make a lovely addition to any outdoor educator or teacher’s backpack.
22. The Council for Learning Outside the Classroom has literacy packs available at all key stages. Most contain 6 lesson plans. If you join this organisation you get these and the others in their series of 25 downloads for free.
There are several videos which may be worth a wee look. This one is by two primary class teachers. Examples of spelling, reading comprehension and much more!
East Ayrshire’s Outdoor Team – Harry Potter focus!
Another literacy workshop from Perth & Kinross’s Outdoor Learning Development Officers.
Finally – whilst loosely focused on literacy, this is a summary of some of the issues around stepping outside.