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Often when we take the children out in the fresh air to teach them about the outside world, we head for the local park or nature reserve. Our towns and cities are often overlooked as places to take children when in fact there is a wealth of opportunity for them to learn in built up areas.
So, how does an excursion around the town provide opportunities for learning? Excursions in and around towns can help in the following ways:
- It builds on children's everyday experiences
- It helps create a sense of community
- It helps teach about the different cultures that might exist around where you live
- It promotes the idea of being out in the open air taking walks, keeping healthy and staying active
- It can help children gain confidence about being out and learning about road safety
- It helps children learn about how seasons can effect the environment in which they live
Things to look out for:
- Different styles of buildings (cottages, old office block, modern houses, old shops)
- 'Street furniture': street lamps, phone boxes, ride-on toys, post boxes, benches, display signs etc.
- Road signs
- Letters and numbers on shop fronts
- Road and rail networks
- Different vehicles (colours, styles, types)
- Building materials: concrete, bricks, wood, glass, metal
- Sounds and smells
- The people around and what they do (bus drivers, road sweepers, children, adults doing gardening etc.)
How can you enhance the experience? Here are a few ideas:
- Talk about what you see as you go along your walk. If you see a bus, look at it's wheels, the colour of the paintwork, how many people are on it, adverts on the side etc.
- Listen to noises and discuss smells. Try and name all the noises (pedestrian crossing 'beeps', diggers, car horns, sirens, shops blaring music)
- Ask questions: where is the red car?, what's in the tree?, who can see a bus?
- Spot different materials used in towns and talk about how strong they are: iron railings, wooden fence, plastic door, brick houses etc
- Look at signs and talk about them. What might they all mean?
- Stop to watch a building site or a dustbin lorry collecting bins. Chat about what they are doing and what happens.
- Look at road signs and the symbols used eg speed limit numbers, construction signs, house numbers; discuss different colours used - blue/white for information, red/white and yellow/black for warnings, green/white for environmental information, bright colours for shop fronts etc.
- Look for shapes: square garage door, rectangle front door, round letter box etc.
- Take some photos of your trip and turn them out as a map.
- For older children and pre-schoolers, you can couple the outing with other activities when you get back home
- Ask them where they want to walk to? Involve them in the planning of the trip and supplies they will need (eg. snack, drink)
- Make a map of the trip and follow it, draw in any landmarks you pass
- Ask them to remember things they saw on the trip and draw them when they get home
Have fun and enjoy your environment!