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6 outdoor learning activities and ideas for primary – including campfire cooking recipes

Head outside and try these pupil-led food-based activities that allow children to take control of their own learning, say Adam Bushnell and Sc.out.ed...

  • 6 outdoor learning activities and ideas for primary – including campfire cooking recipes

1 | DIY popcorn maker

Create your own popcorn maker by putting kernels into a sieve and placing another sieve on top. Slide the handles into a metre-long metal pole. Wrap duct tape around the end of the pole to work as a handle. Each child can have a go at holding the popcorn maker.

Ask pupils to pay particular attention to the sounds of the popcorn and the fire. They can then record these sounds – pop, crackle, crunch etc – with clipboards and paper. Use these words to write onomatopoeic poems about the making of popcorn.

2 | Five senses chocolate tasting

Give pupils two pieces of chocolate still joined together from the bar. Place them on the back of children’s hands, rather than their palm, so they don’t melt as fast. Write down adjectives to describe the chocolate. Snap the two pieces into singular pieces and describe the sound.

Next, pupils can put one piece of chocolate in their mouths and move it around until it melts, all the while holding their noses tightly. When they release their noses, the overwhelming smell and taste come rushing in.

Try the second piece in the same way and think of adjectives to add to the texture, smell and taste sections of your five sensory descriptions.

3 | Bake bread on sticks

Mix together 300g of self-raising flour, 240ml of milk, half a teaspoon of salt and one teaspoon of sugar. Show children how to mix the bread dough with their fingers and knead it when the consistency is slighter softer than playdough.

Tear off small pieces and roll into sausage shapes. Push these onto sticks, twisting the dough down the stick and pushing the ends in tightly to secure. Hold over the embers of a fire for 15 to 20 minutes.

Once baked, carry out a taste test by marking out of ten for taste, texture, appearance and smell, adding up the scores and dividing by four to get an overall score out of ten.

4 | Soup taste test

Making soup is a great way to encourage children to try new vegetables. Work in groups to peel and chop vegetables and herbs. Gather the peelings for compost.

Bring a large pan of water to the boil on a fire and add all their ingredients to the pan, along with a vegetable stock cube or two. Place a lid on and simmer the soup for 20 to 30 minutes with occasional stirring.

If you want to make pottage, add porridge oats for the last five minutes of cooking. Heat a bought tin of vegetable soup and undertake a blind taste test. Discuss which soup pupils prefer and why.

5 | Bake cakes in oranges

Passing the bowl round the circle, beat together equal amounts of eggs, self-raising flour, caster sugar and soft margarine or butter. When the batter is smooth, give each child half an orange.

Squeeze the juice into the batter mix and stir well. Scoop the flesh out of the orange with a spoon, leaving only the skin. Fill each orange skin two-thirds full with batter, cover with foil and place onto the cooling embers of a fire.

Write the cooking method on clipboards while waiting for the cakes to bake. Test with a knife after 20 to 30 minutes.

6 | Ready, steady, cook

Gather pans with lids, a flat frying pan, a flask of boiling water, foil, chopping boards, vegetable peelers, plastic bowls, tin openers, graters, scissors and safety knives.

After lighting a fire, show children ten ingredients – for example, potatoes, broccoli, carrots, chickpeas, dried apricots, passata, corn on the cob, butter, cheese and pasta. Explain that each group of four can only choose four ingredients.

Following 20 minutes of preparation time, one group at a time can cook on the fire with supervision, while other pupils write up recipes, methods and descriptions of their dish.

These ideas have been adapted from 100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Outdoor Learning by Adam Bushnell (@authoradam) and Sc.out.ed (@scoutedsam) (£14.99, Bloomsbury).


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