Humanities - Hooray for the outdoors

18th November 2011 at 00:00

What's it about?

We were 10 years old and the summer of `76 was hot and dry - warm enough to wear only shorts and T-shirts as we headed out to play each day, heading home only in time for tea. Clambering over the fence, we crossed a playing field into a hayfield, writes Natasha Miles.

This was in Croydon, which had largely become a concrete jungle, but places to play were still plentiful. As a child, it meant I had the chance to create my own awareness of geographical space, expand the boundaries of the world beyond my home and gain appreciation of how natural environments changed.

Changing times

The scene would be very different today when most 10-year-olds are more likely to experience the four corners of the world through the internet. But their experiences lack the immersion my generation had as we explored our neighbourhood through play. Nothing gives a geographer such spatial awareness and environmental appreciation as being in, and feeling, the outdoors.

From the experiences of my childhood grew the seed of my first novel, A Place to Play. It is the end of this century, England consists of four cities in a federation, the climate has cooled and a little girl, Martha Smith, has never seen a green space. It is a book that reminds us how important the right to play and places to play in are to children, and their future.

Children are born storytellers. In order to nurture this natural ability, we need to take them to places to play and on field trips that help them explore the world close to, and far from, their neighbourhood.

Where to find it

For outdoor learning activities, visit the Outdoor Learning Collection on TES Resources.

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