Outdoor learning

2019 – Books to inspire learning outdoors

Jan Homden has collated book reviews from Amazon which encourage learning outdoors. From Forest Schools, to simply building opportunities into the weekly timetable to take a lesson or two outdoors, find out how to help children understand that learning takes place everywhere and to experience the unique learning opportunities that arise from being outdoors.

Click on the book covers to follow links to the reviews. Also, listen to Sir Ken Robinson, as he discusses why you should encourage teaching outside. To read more about learning outdoors choose an article from a selection published by The Guardian.

Forest School Adventure: Outdoor Skills and Play for Children – Paperback by Dan Westall (Author), Naomi Walmsley (Author) released 7 May 2018.

‘Learn how to light a fire without matches, build a shelter to sleep in, cook on a fire, hunt for bugs and much more. From essential bushcraft basics and Stone Age survival skills to joyful outdoor play, this book is packed with ideas to bring your little ones closer to nature and all its magical offerings.’

‘Dan Westall and Naomi Walmsley run Outback2Basics from their patch of woodland in the UK where they provide unique experiences for school children and teachers to connect to nature.’


Forest Craft: A Child’s Guide to Whittling in the Woodland – Paperback by Richard Irvine (Author) released 7 Feb 2019


The Forest Club: A Year of Activities, Crafts, and Exploring Nature – Hardcover by Kris Hirschmann (Author), Marta Antelo (Illustrator) released 20 Jun 2019

National Trust: I Am the Seed That Grew the Tree: A Nature Poem for Every Day of the Year – Hardcover by Fiona Waters (Author), Frann Preston-Gannon (Illustrator) published 6 Sep 2018

‘I Am the Seed That Grew the Tree, named after the first line of Judith Nicholls’ poem ‘Windsong’, is a lavishly illustrated collection of 366 nature poems – one for every day of the year, including leap years. Filled with familiar favourites and new discoveries, written by a wide variety of poets, including –

John Agard, William Blake, Emily Bronte, Charles Causley, Walter de la Mare, Emily Dickinson, Carol Ann Duffy, Eleanor Farjeon, Robert Frost, Thomas Hardy, Roger McGough, Christina Rossetti, William Shakespeare, John Updike, William Wordsworth and many more.

This is the perfect book for children (and grown-ups!) to share at the beginning or the end of the day, or just to dip into.’


The Stick Book: Loads of things you can make or do with a stick (Going Wild) – Paperback by Fiona Danks (Author), Jo Schofield  (Author)15 Mar 2012

101 Things For Kids To Do Outside – Paperback by Dawn Isaac (Author)– published 27 Mar 2014

The Outdoor Classroom in Practice, Ages 3–7: A Month-By-Month Guide to Forest School Provision – Paperback by Karen Constable  (Author) – published 15 Oct 2018

‘The Outdoor Classroom in Practice, Ages 3-7 offers guidance on how the outdoors can be used to teach and challenge children across a range of settings by drawing on forest school practice. Following a month-by-month format, it explores theme-related play experiences, planning, evaluations of how the ideas described were carried out and what impact they had on children’s learning and development.’


‘This fully updated second edition includes:

  • over 150 new full-colour photographs to illustrate practice
  • activities and objectives for both early years and KS1, including links to indoor play
  • discussion and support for those working with children with special educational needs
  • detailed information on the role of the adult and of the environment
  • sections covering health and safety guidelines and specific risk assessment in all chapters

Written by a leading authority on forest school practice, this book aims to inspire and help practitioners make the most of the outdoor environment all year round.’


The Little Book of Outside in All Weathers: Little Books with Big Ideas (Little Books) – Paperback by Sally Featherstone (Author, Editor), Sarah Featherstone (Illustrator) published 1 Feb 2003

Also have a look at the Little Book of Outdoor Play in the same series.

‘This book focuses on the environment for outdoor play, giving you hundreds of ideas for making your outdoor area into an exciting garden for all children.’



Jan Homden, Consilium Education
An early years teaching specialist and designer, Jan has taught in international
schools around the world and is now responsible for design and research at Consilium Education.


Sir Ken Robinson shares five reasons you should take your class outside. Nature is a powerful resource.

Click on the image to follow the link





To read more about Learning Outdoors choose an article to look at from The Guardian.

Click on the image to follow the link. 







Cheating by nature

Cuckoo by Nick Davies

Reviewed by Chris Baker

Head of Science at the British International School of Bucharest, Chris Baker picked up this book after seeing a rufous female common cuckoo on a recent trip to the Danube Delta and then listening to an enjoyable interview with Nick Davies on BBC Radio 4 The Life Scientific podcast during a hair-raising drive home through an unseasonal blizzard.

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Novels for young adults

Kate Shepherd reviews three novels with stories that will engage and challenge young adults. The Family with Two Front Doors is based on the author’s real family while The Big Bazoohley is written in the zany style reminiscent of Roald Dahl.  Words in Deep Blue is centred around a bookshop where we are drawn into the lives of the two main characters.

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Finding themselves

Third Culture Chinese

Children’s book reviewer Kate Shepherd looks at three very different stories about the experience of Chinese children. Freedom Swimmer by Wai Chim is a dramatic story for young adults, based on true events at the end of the Cultural Revolution, while two thought-provoking and beautifully illustrated picture books for younger children by Sally Rippin examine the issue of cultural identity of Chinese children living in Australia.

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Summer Reading

The summer holidays . . . . . 

6814330696_128b44ce65_oA time to reflect. A time to catch up on all those things that were put on the back burner.

Time to read those books that have been bought but gathering dust on the shelves and time to read those books that have been recommended.

The Consilium team have put together their list for summer 2016. Happy Reading!

Click on the book covers below for a direct link to Amazon

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Eddie the Eagle

Eddie the Eagle



Initially ridiculed and slightly eccentric, Michael “Eddie” Edwards triumphed over adversity in his quest for ski-jumping fame at the 1988 Winter Olympics. Despite coming last, he became a hero to many and is now the subject of a recent film, reviewed for ITM by Jan Homden.

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Sing Street

sing-street_quad-poster-1243x932It’s the 1980s and times are hard in unpretentious Dublin. It’s the era of new romantics, punks and skinheads, with teenagers defending themselves for “looking different” as they seek a new identity and street style.

Music is influenced by bands such as; The Cure, A-ha, Duran Duran, The Clash, Spandau Ballet, The Jam and the latest Dublin boy band – ‘Sing Street’!
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The Penguin Lessons

One man, one school . . . and a penguin

illustration-from-the-penguin-lessons-for-penguin-blogThis is a true story, beautifully and simply told by Tom Michell who rescued an oil-drenched, knee-high Magellan penguin washed up on a beach at Punta del Este in Uruguay. The story is brought alive not only by Michell’s moving narrative, but also by the wonderful illustrations by Neil Baker.

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Holiday Reads – ITM recommends

With the end of term upon us, whether you are heading to sunshine or snow to celebrate the festive season, staying put and taking a well earned break, or returning home to family , it’s the perfect time to curl up with a good book.

Here are our recommendations, just click on the books below to follow the link to our review.

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Song of the Sea

It was a grey, wet Saturday when we set off to the local cinema for a midday screening of ‘Song of the Sea’. In a small studio theatre that was almost half full with an audience of 26, ranging from toddler to middle aged and everything in-between, we sampled ‘cinema treats’ while waiting for the film to begin.

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“Teaching Overseas: An Insider’s Perspective” Dr. Kent Blakeney

thumb_51xWMV0atoL._SX384_BO1,204,203,200__1024Teaching overseas, particularly for the first-timer, is a thrilling prospect that can also be a little daunting. A myriad of new cultural experiences await as one leaves the safe home port and ventures forth to a new country, new home and new school. “Teaching Overseas: An Insider’s Perspective”, by, Kent M. Blakeney, is packed with information that will help alleviate any lingering anxieties and is a very entertaining read. Tony Richards reviews this new publication.

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“Amy” – a poignant tale

Documentaries have undergone a renaissance in the past decade in terms of becoming more involving and cinematic. Movie buff and regular podcast reviewer Sue Page finds the recent biopic “Amy” an absorbing and intimate portrait of a prodigious talent and an all too short life.

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‘Us’ by David Nicholls

o-DAVID-NICHOLLS-facebookOn my friend’s recommendation I took the book ‘Us’ written by David Nicholls to the desk in Waterstones. The girl smiled and remarked, “Good choice “. With reviews such as ‘A perfect book’ from the Independent and ‘I honestly can’t imagine loving a novel much more,’ from The Sunday Times, I was ready to turn the page.

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A Link in the Chain by Eugene Heimler

442329Dr Eugene Heimler developed an innovative and unique form of psychotherapy, the Heimler Method of Social Functioning, which has enabled countless individuals to find meaning and new direction in their lives and turn frustration and disengagement into creativity and involvement. Peter Hudson provides a very personal review of Dr Heimler’s account of some of the experiences that helped mould his now widely used counselling techniques.

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The Global Expatriate’s Guide to Investing – review

Richardson HeadshotSwept along on the initial excitement of travel and working overseas it is tempting to leave financial planning for another day. Sadly for some such procrastination will result in later regret and financial uncertainty or even instability. Erik Richardson discovers a book that offers hope and sound financial advice for those working overseas; a book that could secure your financial future. 

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BEAUTIFUL: The Carole King Musical

Discover or rediscover the genius of arguably the greatest female singer-songwriter of the last 50 years


Link to the London show

Link to the London show

If you are planning to be in New York or London in the near future and are looking for an out of the ordinary, entertaining evening at the theatre, seriously consider BEAUTIFUL: The Carole King Musical. Be prepared to be entertained as the curtain rises on this musical version of a wonderful artist’s life and career.

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Building a better teacher, by Elizabeth Green


Building a better teacher

Building a better teacher

Delice Scotto looks at the latest publication from Elizabeth Green, co-founder of CHALKBEAT, a-not–for-profit educational news site in the US. Building a Better Teacher looks at the hot topic of teacher effectiveness and analyses the debates that have engrossed the United States over the past few decades between educational reformers and the teacher unions, between teacher autonomy and teacher accountability. Green then looks into how the best teachers “are built”. 

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Hunger Games: Mockingjay 1

Joel Shepherd

Joel Shepherd

What is it about Hunger Games that holds such an appeal for younger movie-goers and especially girls? It’s not just the action and the glamour. In reviewing the latest iteration of the franchise, Sci-Fi author Joel Shepherd looks at what teenagers find so compelling about the Hunger Games, a series which takes its predominantly young audience seriously and asks them to think.




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Empathy: perspective for learning

Empathy: a handbook for revolution, published in the US as Empathy, why it matters and how to get it.

Roman Krznaric, Rider Books, 2014

The importance of empathy

EmpathyFor philosopher Roman Krznaric, western society has painted itself into something of a corner. The prevailing political and social orthodoxy of our time is rooted in competition, the needs of the individual and introspective obsessions.

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What teachers should know and be able to do

Published by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), 1987, now available as The 5 Core Propositions.

I found this short tract when I inherited the contents of the bookshelves in my office at Enka Schools in 2002. It lingered there for a little longer, but then I picked it up one afternoon and read it from cover to cover in an hour (it’s 21 pages long). I was fascinated by the unambiguously simple title and I was not disappointed by what it had to say. In making the case for rigorous and thoughtful practice, it makes five propositions:

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The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed out of the Window and Disappeared

Picture the scene; an old people’s home in Sweden where preparations are in full swing to celebrate the 100th birthday of one of the residents, Allan Karlsson. He, fortunately, has other ideas! As the story unfolds we learn that Allan who enjoys his vodka, was a dynamite expert with a chequered past that included the making of the atom bomb and becoming friends with Joseph Stalin, Winston Churchill and Chairman Mao.

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