Learning Through Adventurous Activities


Learning Through Adventurous Activities
Nov 2009


Learning through Adventurous Activities encourages learning through play as part of a creative curriculum. The book looks at how children learn and provides 75 activities to enthuse and motivate all children, particularly reluctant learners. With the growing epidemic of childhood obesity, children need to be involved in different types of play to ensure that they stay active. Learning through Adventurous Activities can help to ensure that your school is full of active kids.

Why are Adventurous Activities important?
In the first years at school many children find it challenging to sit in a classroom for long periods of time, to listen and concentrate. Young children are programmed to be active and physical, to play and to learn experientially, to use their whole body and all their senses in their explorations of how the world works. By investigating and being adventurous, by trying things for themselves, children work it out. They cultivate an inquisitiveness that is essential for learning and they begin to be able to calculate risk for themselves. Learning through Adventurous Activities is a collection of lesson ideas that aim to make learning practical, exciting and fun, often outside and often involving physical activity.


Learning through Adventurous Activities is a brand new set of practical and exciting activities that are designed to enthuse and motivate all children and particularly reluctant learners. This book aims to:

  • get teachers and pupils excited about adventurous activities and in turn become excited about this way of learning
  • encourage children to move all of their muscles – including their mental muscles
  • help usher in a creative curriculum
  • provide step-by-step advice on how to carry out these activities, including where to buy materials and what you need to do to prepare
  • provide information to help you link up with external organisations

Summary of contents

How to use Learning through Adventurous Activities

Learning through Adventurous Activities is divided into two main sections:

Section one:
This section looks at research on how children learn and why boys and girls need to be given different opportunities in order to be treated equally. There are full references for the research evidence if you wish to pursue the pedagogical implications of using these activities. Also included in this section is information on leadership in the context of these activities, with detailed advice on planning at a whole-school and class level. Further information on assessment, progression and differentiation ensures that the needs of the individual child are met.

Section two:
The majority of the book is made up of 75 adventurous activities. Each activity has a detailed list of instructions for preparation and materials that you will need to carry out the activity successfully.

There is also a wealth of practical information that will allow you to find all the resources and support you need to make your school an adventurous school.
The activities in the book are arranged in themes to help you quickly locate the activities that will fit in with your class work. Each theme section opens with an introduction. There are details of National Curriculum links and general health and safety advice for that section. There are also literacy links. Part of the philosophy of the book is that reading and writing, speaking and listening should emerge from practical and exciting learning experiences. The literacy links show you how to do this.

Each individual activity contains the following information:

  • Rationale – explains why you might choose to use this activity
  • Learning objectives – details what aspects of the curriculum Early Years and Key Stage 1 children will cover through the activity
  • Resources – tells you what you will need
  • Introducing the activity – suggests practical ways of getting the children interested in the subject of the lesson
  • Conducting the activity – gives step-by-step directions as to how to do the activity
  • Health and safety – highlights any key points you will need to take into consideration
  • Follow-up activities – suggests where you might go once you have completed this activity
  • Teaching points – in the margin of each activity you will find interesting facts related to the subject of the activity
  • Diagrams – many of the activities include step-by-step diagrams to ensure that following the instructions is as straightforward as possible.

Chapter breakdown

Below is a list of the activities included in Learning through Adventurous Activities:

Theme 1  – Nature
Children have an almost instinctive love of nature and certainly many adults spend their leisure time engaged in activities such as bird watching or walking in the countryside. The key to this human interest in nature is in its diversity, its beauty and in its endless fascination. This awareness is strong in young children and our role as teachers is simply to encourage and nurture it. The following activities will help you do just that.

  • Become a nature detective
  • Take a plaster cast footprint
  • Bird feeding station
  • Build a bird hide to watch birds up close
  • Indoor wildlife pond
  • Pond-dipping expedition
  • Nature games
  • Grow your own tree
  • Estimate the height and age of a tree
  • Bark casting
  • Give a hedgehog a hibernation home
  • Minibeast trail
  • Life cycles – butterflies
  • Life cycles – frogs
  • Making mini habitats for minibeasts
  • Make a moth trap
  • Ant town
  • Build a bird box
  • Rock pooling and beachcombing

Theme 2 – Science
The activities in this section will fire children’s imagination about the possibilities of science. Science is about attitude as well as methodology. From the earliest age encourage children’s natural desire to know how things work and why things happen. Take everyday opportunities such as cooking and playing with toy cars to discuss the scientific principles of our world.

  • The night sky
  • Make a sundial
  • Weather – recording, predicting and enjoying
  • Make a magnetic compass
  • Make your own paper
  • Build an erupting volcano
  • Make an electromagnet
  • Make a pinhole camera
  • Make a periscope

Theme 3 – Art
Art in an adventurous style involves going out and doing artistic things with the natural world. Children use their senses to explore and gain inspiration from the natural world. They experiment with materials to create their own art. This gives them a greater understanding of the world around them as well as the opportunity to develop their own artistic styles.

  • Creating a living willow dome
  • What is found art?
  • Making an Iron Age pot
  • Using natural dyes

Theme 4 – Woodcraft
Woodcraft skills bring a sense of adventure into school life and your school doesn’t have to be in the heart of the countryside to practise them. What woodcraft skills will give your children is a real enthusiasm and excitement for learning about their world.

  • Cooking on a campfire
  • Building a shelter
  • How to leave a trial
  • Making and reading maps
  • Tying knots
  • Building a rope bridge
  • Codes and signals
  • Finding north and telling the time with the sun
  • Hiking

Theme 5 – Role-play
Role-play is a fantastic vehicle for exploring all manner of complexities that affect our lives and influence our development as individuals and members of a society. We can explore conflict through role-play and learn to deal with it.

  • Knights and castles
  • Garden centre
  • An emergency ward
  • Pirate day
  • Fire!

Theme 6 – Design and technology
The best design and technology projects come out of the children’s imaginations and allowing them open access to a wide variety of materials. Children generate ideas having been inspired in some way. They create their own designs from these ideas. They can make their design and evaluate it before suggesting and making any improvements.

  • Big construction
  • Junk dragon puppets
  • Lighting up a lighthouse
  • Cultural cooking
  • Build an igloo
  • Build your own adventure course
  • Cotton reel car
  • Build a go-cart
  • Making and flying kites

Theme 7 – Gardening
Gardening in schools is a practical way in which you can tick a number of boxes and have lots of fun into the bargain. If you are working on the Eco-Schools Programme an organic vegetable garden fed with your own homemade compost is a winner. If you are a Healthy School then supplying your school kitchen with herbs from your own herb garden and giving the children fresh fruit from your own mini-orchard are big steps in the right direction.

  • Create a vegetable garden
  • Growing potatoes
  • Growing vegetables from seeds
  • Plant a mini orchard
  • Make a wormery
  • Make your own compost bin
  • Keeping chickens
  • African gardens

Theme 8 – Our wonderful world
History, geography and RE, what used to be known as the humanities, can all be taught in practical and exciting ways through the use of adventurous activities. This theme is all about giving children a greater understanding of the world in which we live.

  • Festivals around the world (part one)
  • Travel the world
  • Making landscapes
  • Our local geography
  • Improving our local environment
  • Creating living photographs from historical events
  • Historical drama days
  • Local history timeline

Theme 9 – Small world play
Small world play involves setting out familiar scenes such as a farmyard, a printed road carpet or a model house. Children then explore the setting with model characters, animals, toy cars and lorries etc. The purpose of this play is to give children the opportunity to explore and develop an understanding of the worlds that they will be interacting with as they grow up.

  • The Pirates of Volcano Island
  • Superhero HQ
  • The Underwater Kingdom
  • Lost in Space


Print: A4 ringbinder

eBook: 1 x PDF file


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