Wildlife Wednesday: ‘S’ is for…

Wildlife Wednesday : outdoor activities learning the letter 's', Baby Routes

Roo is back to preschool again and is now going several days a week. It’s hard to believe that next year she will be going to school full-time and the switch to pre-school has brought it home to me that our time with just the two of us is ticking away. Given her autumn birthday, another month or so earlier and Roo would be going to school this year instead. It makes me shudder! In reality though she is ready for it in a lot of ways. She’s always been a bookworm and is trying to decipher the words in her bedtime stories more than ever now. She also often asks to do some ‘writing’ and her relentless questioning about the world around her shows no sign of letting up anytime soon.

Seeds and Sloes, Wildlife Wednesday : outdoor activities learning the letter 's', Baby Routes

This year, as prep for school, back-up for pre-school and as a way of really enjoying our last year of freedom to spend plenty of time learning and playing outdoors, I’m trying to do a bit of my own improvised ‘forest school’. If you’re not quite sure what forest school is then do look it up – it’s a Scandinavian concept which very basically involves getting kids outdoors no matter what the weather and providing and education in a natural environment. It deals with teaching children to assess and manage their own risks, to engage with nature and learn in a stimulating environment suited to the energy levels and inquisitive nature of young learners. It’s just a shame not many places do it properly where we live.

Wildlife Wednesday : outdoor activities learning the letter 's', Baby Routes

This week Roo’s pre-school letter of the week was ‘S’, so after she had finished for the day we set off on a nature walk, armed with empty yoghurt pots. Roo’s mission was to collect everything she could find beginning with ‘s’ . The obvious things like stones, sticks and straw quickly found a place in her pot. I was impressed that she remembered the sloe berries from a previous walk without any prompting. It’s amazing what little people actually take in even when you don’t think that they’re paying any attention! We decided against putting a slug in the pot, especially given how much it was being shaken about.

Under the towering avenue of oak trees Roo soon came back proudly holding out an acorn. ‘What does ‘acorn’ begin with?’ I asked her dubiously. ‘Can it go in our ‘S’ pot?’

‘Yes,’ Roo replied swiftly. ‘It’s a seed’.

I couldn’t really argue with her logic. After that the ‘S’ treasure pot quickly filled up with all manner of different types of seed and berries and a new idea sprung into my mind for back home.

Wildlife Wednesday : outdoor activities learning the letter 's', Baby Routes

Before we headed back to the house, Roo traced round the letter ‘S’ with a stick in the mud on the footpath and then had a go at drawing some all by herself. It wasn’t quite muddy enough to make a good trail but she had a fair stab at it. Then we decorated the mud ‘s’s with some of the treasures from her ‘s’ pot. The sticks turned out to be her favourite decorating material.

Wildlife Wednesday : outdoor activities learning the letter 's', Baby Routes

Back home we tipped out all the seeds Roo had gathered onto a tray. We talked about the seeds and berries, about what they needed to make them grow into plants and how the fruit of the berries contained little seeds inside. Roo then set about getting everything they needed, filling up an old take-away container with some damp compost. She sprinkled her seeds on top and poked the berries into the soil. They were popped into our greenhouse to see if anything grows.

Wildlife Wednesday : outdoor activities learning the letter 's', Baby Routes

I also gave Roo some cress seeds to grow (we got them free when we bought her a kiddy lunchbox at a National Trust property recently). Having talked about seeds so much I wanted her to be able to see how they grew and there is no guarantee that field seeds are going to do anything exciting anytime soon. Cress on the other hand usually gets going in a few days!

Roo sprinkled the cress on some more damp compost and tucked it away on a shelf. Finally back inside Roo surprised me by asking to have a go at writing her new letter ‘S’ with a proper pencil. I drew some lines and a few template ones to get her started and left her happily practicing her new writing skills. I only managed to persuade her to stop when her supper was ready! She’s never persevered quite like that before.

Later in the week we went to inspect our seeds. Nothing had happened yet with the field seeds but the cress was already bursting out tiny little roots and shoots. Roo was thrilled!

All in all, it was a pretty successful first week of our outdoor education explorations. I hope I can keep it up. If you’ve got any good ideas for ‘A’ then please send them my way…that’s this week’s letter of the week!




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  1. What a lovely post and wow your little girl is so clever! I’m a firm believer in outdoor learning and love the forest school concept – fortunately it’s catching on here in Wales. It’s amazing how we worry so much about how to educate our children and they almost always show us the way and surprise us. I love how your little girl understood the acorn was a seed. Fingers crossed the cress seeds grow soon! #whatevertheweather

  2. I absolutely love the forest school concept-such a brilliant idea. What a great idea to carry on with what Roo had learnt at pre school-I am definitely going to give this a go once baby starts nursery next year.
    Umm I’ve been thinking about the letter A and so far all I can come up with is ants! Sorry 🙁

    1. Yes…ants is all I could think of too. Or apples which we already kind of covered. Cursing myself for using ‘acorn’ too soon!! Thanks for popping by. 🙂

  3. I love this – that’s such a clever idea. I know there’s a forest school not too far from me but with our time ticking down to school next year, I may have left it too late for an organised version.

  4. What a great idea giving Roo her own personal Forest School, I love the idea of Forest School’s too and think it’s such a shame that it’s not as common in England. It’s great that Roo was picking things up like Sloe Berries remembering their names and her clever idea of using an acorn as a seed. It’s great that Roo’s enjoying her last year of one-on-one mummy time during the week. Thanks for linking up with me on Country Kids.

  5. Looks like Roo is really enjoying Forest School with you. Love her clever idea to include the acorn.

  6. A fantastic idea! I love all the forest school activities! We go to the forest once a week at the moment, but don’t do any planned activities except a fire, the boys just run around in play. It looks like your really winning on the learning through outdoor play though. I love how she’s remembered everything that begins with an S! I need to try some more of these types of activities with O, he loves his letters! How about finding some wild apples for a? Then you can use a sharp stick to try and write an a on the apple and then Roo can practice tracing it or drawing it in the mud? You could collect the seeds to grow them too?
    Thanks so much for linking up to # Whatevertheweather 🙂 x

  7. What a great idea, we have started doing a letter a week but only got to B!!! Must get back into the swing of things, Monkey will be going to school too next Sept although only just 4! I love the idea of forest school would never have thought about doing it myself which is really stupid as we have several woodlands near to us. Thank you for the inspiration 🙂 #countrykids

  8. I love the idea of forest school. I wish we had one near us but we’re definitely going to use the concept of it and learn a lot more outdoors. That’s such a great idea to do a letter a week. We have a woods near us that we visit all the time so I’m going to start going a lot more and using this style of learning. It sounds like Roo really enjoys it. It’s amazing what they absorb when we don’t think they’re properly taking things in.Thank you so so much for linking this to #whatevertheweather x

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