Tag Archives: outdoors

Year 5’s Amazing Mosaics


These 4 circular panels have been a collaboration with year 5 pupils in Art and Outdoor learning.
We made close observations of flower heads and created clay relief tiles, which were painted and glazed so they could go outside.
The children’s handmade tiles were mixed with glass square tiles to make these beautiful panels to brighten up our entrance corridor outside.

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Apple Pomander Bird Feeders

Only a few weeks to go until we break for Christmas, the rehearsals have started for the Christmas concert and the Christmas art club have begun the decorations.

Not to be left out of all the fun, forest school have been making bird feeders with a Christmas twist. We took the traditional Christmas Pomander idea made with whole dried cloves studded into an orange and used apples and sunflower seeds to tempt the birds.

Apple Pomanders

  • Push a stick through the core of an apple
  • Decide on a pattern and push sunflower seeds and berries into the apple
  • Tie string to each end of the stick and hang in a tree


Trust game with rope

This activity helps to promote group cohesion, physical activity and communication (social & emotional learning)

It can be a useful activity to calm a group, or to identify and resolve group problems and tensions. Some children can find it very difficult to relax and trust everyone to support them. They may show this in different ways – by refusing to take part, or by fooling about. Don’t push anyone to take part if they are not comfortable, but encourage everyone to be supportive of each other.

Set the scene –

  • you may want to hide the rope to be discovered in a treasure tree or similar spot. When it is found, discuss how it is important in Forest School to be able to rely on each other and trust one another.
  • One large polypropylene rope with its ends tied.
  • Children hold the rope in a circle
  • Everyone leans back slowly to take the strain and balance the circle.
  • When everyone is in balance and harmony, the feeling is of mutual group support.
  • Counting can help provide a challenge – for example ‘can everyone hold each other up for a count of 50?’ and improve concentration.
  • Note who finds this easy/ difficult, or who cannot lean back with confidence. Discuss this with the individual and look to the group to offer peer support.
  • Repeating the activity over a number of sessions can help you to review how the group cohesion is improving, and how individual children’s confidence with their peers may be growing.

Clay Creatures


Fairly large pieces of clay for each child (needs to be fairly easy to knead and mould – play dough or bread dough might be easier for younger children). Bag for each child to collect natural materials. Hand washing facilities!

Time required

1 hour (depending on length of walk) including gathering materials, making model and looking at the finished creatures. Extension activities like Story telling could make this longer.

The activity

Introduce the activity by talking about and searching for the variety of minibeasts found in the woods. It could be linked to teaching about habitats.

Explain that they are going to make models of giant minbeasts. They can choose to make minibeasts like those they have just found – or perhaps to imagining an extinct giant minibeast that might have lived in the woods along time ago. Imagine a minibeast Jurassic Park!

If the children are familiar with their site let them explore it, and gather natural materials that could be used with the clay to make their creature. Give them some examples of the sort of materials that could be useful such as nuts for eyes, moss for hair and encourage them to dig in the leaf litter to find suitable materials.

Encourage them to find a suitable location where they can settle their model as it is made – on a tree branch, in a hollow, on a stone so that the others can find them. Each child can make their own model or they may prefer to work in small groups. They could make different stages in the life cycle of one creature or a whole family of them.

Then walk through the woods together spotting all the strange creatures. Are they camouflaged? Encourage each child to tell something of their creature’s story – its name, where it comes from etc.


They may enjoy making ‘mini-shelters’ for their minibeasts using natural materials found close by. Discuss what minibeasts might need to survive in the woodland, by day and night.

An alternative to making the giant minibeasts is to make goblins using a stick for the body and making the head from clay or dough which is then decorated with natural materials to make features, hair etc. They look very effective hung in the trees.

Simple but striking ‘Tree spirits’ can be made from clay. Mould the clay into a flat face shape in the palm of the hand and gouge out the features with twigs or fingers to make simple faces that can be stuck onto the trees.

Natural Portraits


Natural materials don’t inhibit those children who would otherwise protest ‘but I can’t draw!’

  • Gather the group together. Discuss what portraits are, and then say that they are going to make self portraits – but the only problem is – you have forgotten pens, paper and paintbrushes. What can you do? The children will probably leap to suggest they can use the natural materials around them!
  • Let the children decide if they want to design individually or in twos or small groups. This will vary with age and confidence.
  • Talk about the features of a face they may need to include – ears, eyes, nose, hair etc and encourage or suggest some useful materials like fluffy seeds for eyebrows for example.
  • Set some environmentally aware ground rules in terms of parts of plants to collect/ leave alone. Otherwise agree only to collect plentiful loose materials such as fallen leaves/grasses.
  • Talk about framing their portraits – what could they use? Sticks or twigs for example, of equal lengths.
  • Discuss contrasting backgrounds – so the image is clear rather than blending in with the background – and how they may chose the backdrop to display the image.
  • Let them spend time gathering materials and making self portraits. Are the faces happy or sad?
  • Alternatively, they could design portraits of other beings – monsters/ wood spirits – let them decide the theme.

Texture Trail

Take your class or a small group on a walk in the playground or in a nature area. Ask them to feel and touch things around them.

How many textures can you touch?

  • Soggy decomposing leaves
  • Lacy skeleton leaves
  • Silky flower petals
  • Tickly lichen
  • Flexible grasses
  • Rough tree roots
  • Furry moss
  • Rigid bark
  • Brittle twigs
  • Prickly pine needles
  • Smooth flower buds
  • Crumbly rotten wood
  • Waxy evergreen leaves
  • Gritty soil from a mole hill
  • Sticky horse chestnut buds

Twig Towers

Environmental artists such as Andy Goldsworthy and Chris Drury use natural woodland materials to build and create 3D art and sculpture in the woods.

Why not build your own twig tower sculpture under a tree…?

Gather some twigs, ready to create your twig tower. It could have a square base, a triangular base or be of your own design.

The best place to build the tower would be beneath a tree as you can try to build the tower up to the lower branches.

If there’s a very low branch then you could build around it so that the branch becomes part of your sculpture.

You could also use a tree trunk as support.