Mark Making Activities – Mud Drawing: Outdoor Classroom Day #DirtIsGood
Outdoor Classroom Day is a global campaign to celebrate and inspire outdoor learning & play. It’s a day when thousands of schools around the world take their lessons outdoors. Last year, over 2.3 million children got out of the schoolroom to learn outside in the real world!
As a teacher myself, I am a huge advocate of outdoor learning. The enjoyment, sense of wonder & excitement that is generated when children play in & discover their environment is unquestionable. It improves children’s physical & mental health, engages them with learning & leads to a greater connection with nature. Outdoor play also teaches critical life skills such as resilience, teamwork & creativity.
With this in mind, I was shocked to read a recent study that showed how significantly exam pressure is putting school playtime at risk.
One in eight primary schoolchildren get less than 30 minutes of outdoor playtime each day
40% of teachers blame pressures of curriculum for lack of time outdoors
It’s so sad that school playtime & outdoor learning is being cut back. One in eight (12%) primary school aged children around the world get 30 minutes or less of outdoor time on an average day due to the pressures of testing and academic studies.
According to a new survey conducted by Project Dirt for Outdoor Classroom Day, 97% of teachers questioned believe that outdoor playtime at school is critical for children to reach their full potential. Yet 40% report that curriculum pressures are preventing them from allowing children to have more playtime or outdoor lessons and it is worst in the US (47%) and the UK (45%).
Furthermore, two thirds (61%) of children globally – and over 89% of 5-11 year olds in the USA – get less than an hour of playtime each day, despite the World Health Organisation’s recommendation that all children get at least one hour of physical activity per day. Outdoor playtime at school is a critical part of achieving this.
LET’S FIX THIS
Since 2015, Persil has been an avid supporter of Outdoor Classroom Day & this year they want even more kids to get out & learn in the great outdoors. They believe every child should have the opportunity to learn and develop through outdoor play and exploration, and get all families to #EmbraceDirt and experience life, with all its messiness. So ahead of Outdoor Classroom Day, I was challenged by Persil to come up with three fun lessons for my children that can help them learn something new through first hand practical experiences.
For the final lesson, I chose a mark making theme with links to expressive arts & design & literacy. These activities are aimed at children from 1 year upwards.
Lesson 3 – Mud Drawing
These fun mark making activities help children explore their creativity, develop their motor skills & prepare them for writing.
Mark making plays a large role in early years settings & can also be easily developed at home. These mark making activities have been inspired by the natural world & are designed to be completed outdoors. We chose mud as it is such a versatile material that can be found pretty much anywhere!
WHAT YOU NEED:
- Mud! – can use the ground as a canvas or put mud into a container
- Different items to make marks with e.g. a stick, toy car, pine cones, a fork, a peg, fingers… whatever items you have at the time.
- OPTIONAL: flowers, leaves etc. to inject colour into the pictures
HOW TO PLAY:
Make the mud! Find a patch of dirt & add water if needed until it becomes a nice muddy, gooey consistency.
Using the chosen objects, let children explore the different marks they can make in the mud.
Let little ones add items such as leaves to add colour to their marks/drawings.
Talk to your child whilst they explore this media – describe what you see them doing, the colours they are using, the lines they are making. This supports language development & communication. You can also ask open-ended questions to extend their thinking e.g. if they’re drawing an aeroplane, ask them where it is going.
Sophie absolutely loved this activity & has been asking when we can do it again ever since. The best thing about these mud making activities is that they’re totally free, require very little preparation & kids learn SO much from them.
Throughout these activities, remember: EMBRACE THE DIRT!
Let them get muddy, let them get dirty
MAKE IT EASIER:
Are you working with a very young child or a little one who hasn’t quite got the coordination to hold & move an object? Try these ideas:
- Let them use their bodies! Put old clothing on & let them just sit in the mud. Watch their faces as they use their hands, feet, mouth & knees etc. to explore.
MAKE IT HARDER:
Are you working with an older child who is ready to learn even more? Try these ideas:
- Encourage them to make more meaningful marks such as words, shapes & numbers
- Occassionally, give direct instructions e.g. can you make a line that goes up & down, can you draw a line that goes round & round?
What are you helping your little one to do?
- Develop fine & gross motor skills & co-ordination
- Set the foundations for marks that will become pictures, writing, numbers & symbols used to make sense of the world
- Begin to talk about my drawings and paintings and what my marks mean.
Enjoyed this? There’s still time to get involved in Outdoor Classroom Day –
What mark making activities do your children enjoy? Post your outdoor classroom ideas below!
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**Mark Making Activities – Mud Drawing is a collaborative post