Using natural materials outside

IMG_0254Using natural materials outside

I had a great day working with some school direct students today.  I challenged them to make something for mother’s day with natural materials which they had to collect from outside.   It never ceases to amaze me how everyone produces something so entirely different…….and that’s exactly why I love working with loose materials. Whether natural or man-made they are so flexible, offer so many opportunities and different ways of working…. in 2 and 3d.

Look at how students from a previous course arrange leaves on a skewer!  There are so many ways in which you can challenge children with just this one activity. You can challenge them to make a repeating pattern, order leaves from large to small/small to large or order them by shades of colour – light to dark or vice versa. These are just a few, there are many, many more.

I brought a pestle and mortar with me today, which is a great addition when working with natural materials outside.   One of the students crushed some pyracantha berries and had expected to be able to paint with them, however she found they didn’t produce enough liquid and were too lumpy. She was able to mould them and created a heart instead. The range of colours within the crushed berries added to the overall effect.

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Once the students had all completed the challenge we got back together to share their creations, discuss what went well, what problems they encountered and what they would if anything, do differently next time. This is a good way to get children to share their ideas with one another and assess their own, and others, work.

The very nature of natural materials means that each season there are different materials and resources with which to work and it’s all entirely FREE!

If you haven’t been outside with your children – try it!  You will be amazed by their ingenuity, creativity and levels of enjoyment and engagement.

Written by jackieslaughter1

I have over 20 years experience in teaching and leading the Early Years Foundation Stage, as well as supporting other settings through training and school to school support. I have recently set up a training and consultancy service - Early Years Outdoor Learning - to offer support and training on all things early years but with particular emphasis on outdoor learning.

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