Posted on

Creative writing outside

Outdoor Writing Ideas

Get Students Engaged with these outdoor writing ideas

If you need to switch up your writing time, getting outdoors is a great way to do that! These simple outdoor writing ideas will help boost creativity, give your students a change of scenery, and increase thinking and curiosity.

As I’m writing this, schools across the country are currently participating in distance learning due to Covid-19 closures. These writing ideas can easily be implemented at home or at school. For more at-home learning ideas, click here.

The Benefits of Being Outside

There are a lot of benefits to being outside. Getting our students and children outdoors is important for their well-being. Here are some benefits to getting children outside:

  1. Getting outside improves sensory skills: When kids get outside, they have a chance to activate their senses in a different way. They get to use and explore these senses in different ways than the way they use their senses indoors. They hear the bee buzzing around them, smell the flowers blooming, see the green grass, and feel the hardness of the pavement.
  2. Being outside makes you calmer and lessens anxiety: Seratonin levels go up when you’re in the sun (WebMD). When serotonin levels are up, your mood is more calm and focused. Students are able to focus more on what they are doing, which is why learning outside is a great opportunity!
  3. Nature is comforting to children: Being outdoors in nature takes away stress and the pressure of school, peer interaction, and family (National Wildlife Federation).
  4. It improves focus: When children play outside regularly, they are more curious and stay on task longer (Sandford Health). Even though this is particularly about playing, I think just getting kids outside to learn would spark curiosity as well. Sometimes just “getting fresh air” is really a good way to boost your focus too.
  5. It boosts creativity: According to WebMD, spending time outside in nature can help creative problem-solving skills.

These five outdoor writing ideas will be a huge benefit to your students in mental health and academically.

Write With Your Senses

Sit outside and have your students close their eyes. What do they smell? Have them look around. What do they see? Have them use their senses to explain the outdoors. Explain to them to be specific. Saying, “I see the sky” is not using senses. However, saying, “I see white fluffy clouds” is using the senses. Have them jot down their senses on a sensory bubble map (included in the free download at the end of this post).

Sidewalk Chalk Adjectives

Sidewalk chalk is one of our favorite ways to write outside! This is a great follow-up activity to the one I previously mentioned. Think of different adjectives that describe outside. Encourage kids to think about the different things to describe: clouds, grass, dirt, houses, trees, rocks, etc. Think of colors, feeling, etc. Depending on your students, they could write what they are describing as well. For example, they might be able to write, “bumpy rock”. You can extend this activity by having them write a sentence (i.e. I will paint the bumpy rock).

Go On A Nature Hunt

Walking around the neighborhood, backyard, or school playground is a fun activity just to get outdoors and moving around. Write different observations you see while you are on your nature hunt. Encourage your students to write different adjectives to describe the different things they see. For example, instead of just writing tree, write “large, green tree.”

Make A Tree Observation

Find a tree! Sit down in front of the tree and just watch it. If you can, go out on a slightly windy day (not too windy! You don’t want to blow away!). Just sitting and watching something that doesn’t provide entertainment might be difficult for your primary students, so definitely watch behaviors and don’t sit too long. While observing, have your students draw what they see and then write about the tree. Teach your students the importance of paying close attention to detail (i.e. this part of the tree is darker than the rest of it… Why do you think that is?). This deep thinking will help them with the way they think about their writing.

Write A How-To Story

Think about all the things you do outside! Write a how-to story for someone who doesn’t know how to do it. Do you swing outside? Write a how-to story for someone who doesn’t know how to swing. Then, see if someone can follow your directions to do it.

Grab Your Free Writing Pages Here

I hope you enjoyed these outdoor writing ideas! You can download all these writing pages for free!

Creativity in Lockdown: Write Outside

With the nights drawing in and Christmas lights twinkling, it’s hard to remember back to summer 2020, but it did happen! This year we had to do things a little differently in the Young Writers’ team, as we soon realised we wouldn’t be able to hold our usual creative summer schools due to the restrictions of COVID-19.

After a lot of thinking, we rose to the challenge with Write Outside: an online summer school taking place across the full six week holidays. We knew that after months of home-schooling, most of us were sick of staring at our screens. So we decided to encourage our young writers to take their notebooks outdoors, and be inspired by the world around them.

We enlisted the help of three North East writers who work across different forms: Bob Beagrie (poetry); Ruth Johnson (theatre); and Lucie Brownlee (prose). Each week, Bob, Ruth, and Lucie uploaded new activities for our young writers to download from our dedicated website page. These activities were linked to our six themes of exploration: Being Inside, Breaking Out, Taking Steps, Crossing Paths, Routes and Roots, Journey’s End.

We were also joined by six fantastic guest writers who each made a video workshop exploring one of the weekly themes: James Varney, Jessica Andrews, Louise Powell, Okechukwu Nzelu, Phoebe Power, and Melody Sproates. We drew maps of our cities using words, created our own superheroes, wrote love letters to plants, and much more.

To go alongside the digital resources, we experimented with new platforms to work with our young writers’ community. We held weekly video workshops on Zoom with our lead writers, and we used Discord to connect our young writers between sessions, and share prompts and creative responses. We’ve continued to use these for our normal Young Writers’ group sessions this term.

“It was summer school – but not as we know it!” said Lucie Brownlee. “Young writers from across the North joined me on Zoom for three lively fiction-writing sessions, and as ever, they surprised, delighted, and impressed with their unique approaches to storytelling. It was such a privilege to work with this new generation of scribblers, and I can’t wait to see what they do next!”

It was wonderful to see so many young people sign up to our online programme this summer, including new writers who are not able to attend our regular groups due to their geographical location. We are so proud of how adaptable and creative our young people are, and we are thrilled to share their collective Write Outside poem with you. Watch it here.

Heres what some of our participants thought:

“I joined Write Outside because I love creative writing. Whether it is poetry, stories or just descriptions, all forms of creative writing excite me – it’s the only part of English exams I look forward to! Write Outside was an amazing opportunity for me to further develop my creative writing skills and I did so immensely! It was all thanks to the amazing Write Outside team who helped to engage me in new perspectives of creative writing. My writing no longer just feels like a description, it feels like a piece that I can personally understand. When someone else reads it, they don’t just understand the text, they understand me. Creative writing is something which allows me to break free from the restrictions of school and work and enter my reality. It’s not just about becoming another person, it’s about seeing how different our world could have been with the most minute changes. I can set free from the shackles of society.”

Taiyyib, 15, Manchester

“I have taken part in several ‘Write Outside’ sessions over the summer and I’ve had lots of fun! My favourite week has been ‘What’s in a Name?’ During this session, we took inspiration from the character’s names and how their name may influence their personality. Generating names inspired me to create a long list of new and unique characters, they were a great starting point for my writing. The names also led me to create illustrations of what my characters would look like, considering everything from how they wear their hair to whether they have freckles or birthmarks. It was lovely to incorporate my love of drawing and to generate such a clear vision of my characters (their appearance and their personality quirks) when starting to write new stories.”

Gracie, 12, South Shields

Write Outside was generously funded by the Kavli Trust and Amazon Literary Partnership.