Taking Play Outdoors this Bookbug Week

Toddler playing in the leaves with mum
Category: Bookbug

With warmer weather comes an abundance of vegetation, mini-beasts, birds and long days to explore and play outside. This is a lovely time to celebrate our natural community spaces and the wonder of exploration through play. 

One of my own fondest memories of playing outside was pooh sticks, and even now I can’t go near a bridge or a river’s edge without looking for appropriate and right sized sticks to throw into the water. Winnie the Pooh has always been loved no matter what generation you belong to, and pooh sticks is a game that seems to tap into the competitive side of every nature lover. If you’ve never played pooh sticks before, you can view the ‘real’ rules here!

We're Going on a Bear Hunt cover
When my eldest daughter was really little, someone gave us We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen, which made walks with her incredibly enjoyable, pounding up hills, through woods and across fields shouting the words and then running away at the very end when we find the bear, creasing up with laughter.

When you're outside with your child, try to find the right walks to re-enact the story – or go to your nearest park or garden to try to explore how to make the following sounds: 

  • Swishy Grass
  • Splashy River
  • Squelchy Mud
  • Tripping in the Forest
  • Howling Snowstorm
  • Tiptoe in the cave

So a howling snow storm might mean blowing the top of a bottle – or just going out when its really windy! If you live in or near the countryside, you can find muddy puddles, or make a mud pie for the mud effect, splash in a river (a shallow part!) or fill an outdoor tub with water. Can you make a cave? Who will be the bear?

Where My Wellies Take Me by Clare and Michael Morpurgo is a beautifully crafted book full of promise and adventure. This is a great story that can start myriad outdoor activities – going on a mini-beast hunt to see which ones live in hedgerows or identifying wild flowers. See if you can find 10 things on your walk and photograph them too. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • A nest
  • A swallow
  • A blackbird
  • A round pebble
  • A butterfly
  • A beetle
  • A wild flower

And finally a family favourite, The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler tells the story of a mouse, the protagonist of the book, taking a walk in a beautiful forest where he meets Fox, Owl and Snake and outwits them (and the real Gruffalo) with his cunning. Let this book with its beautiful illustrations inspire you to explore a woodland trail, spot some animals and join in the songs on www.gruffalo.com.

Play builds confidence, resilience and self-esteem and develops skills for life - I hope you find the time to play outdoors with your babies, toddlers, and young children this Bookbug Week.

Julia Abel

Julia Abel is Go2Play Performance Adviser for Inspiring Scotland. Go2Play has been working with the Scottish Government to promote the benefits of free play, and along with the Scottish Government, have invested in over 60 charities. All of them use books to engage the imaginations of children and parents.