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The power of chalk: 8 learning opportunities

  • by: Anna from Pobble
  • On: 26, Jul 2021
38 min read

During an episode of our newly launched podcast, we discussed ideas for non-screen activities that were not only educational, but fun too. The panel agreed unanimously that chalk is a brilliantly versatile learning tool. Panelist and Apple Distinguished Educator, Paul Tullock, even went so far as saying “chalk is king” and we have to agree!

When it comes to simple and effective outdoor learning ideas, there’s not much that’s more powerful than a piece of chalk. Whether it’s on the playground at school or on the pavement or driveway at home, the learning opportunities are endless! The best thing of course is it washes away easily!

Here, we’ve rounded up just a few of our favourites. If you have an idea that we’ve missed, share it with us on Twitter, we’d love to hear from you.

  1. Let’s pretend — Use chalk to create different scenes on the ground, then step into the picture (just like Mary Poppins) and role play. There’s always an opportunity to extend the learning opportunities. You could draw roads and discuss road safety. Draw a shop or market stall and role play with money. Draw a garden and count the flowers or talk about nature, colours and wildlife. You could even draw an entire village!

2. Get sporty — you don’t need lots of sports equipment or even a sports court when you have a piece of chalk. Fill up the driveway, pavement or playground with your own hand-drawn version, adapt it depending on how much space you have, add in your goals and you’re good to go! If space is limited, draw small targets and use bean bags, balls or anything ‘throwable’ to hit the bullseye, great for practising your throwing. Add some numbers to your target and add up your points as you go for more of a challenge.

3. Make some art — Can the children create a piece of art? A mural would really brighten the place up! Perhaps they could research famous artists and recreate one of their works or, if the sun is shining, shadow drawing is a lovely option. Chalk photography is fun too. Pick your scene, get the kids to draw it on the ground, then use it as a backdrop for your photo by getting them to lay down. A wonderful keepsake and a brilliant opportunity to discuss the scene you draw. Check out some incredible scene ideas here.

4. Go hunting — Use chalk to write instructions for a scavenger hunt around your outdoor space. You could include things for the children to find like ‘find 3 round stones’, ‘find 4 twigs that are longer than 10cms’, or ‘find 5 different varieties of flower’. Alternatively, write chalk clues for a treasure hunt. Children need to solve the clues to proceed to the next step, with a treat at the end!

5. Create your own games — Can the children invent their own rules for a game? Perhaps they could adapt ‘The floor is lava’ by using different chalk colours to draw safe areas? A classic game of Hopscotch can be given an educational twist with your own special instructions such as time stables or spellings. Or the kids could design their own maze or obstacle course.

6. Writing practice — When learning to write, it’s great to explore different surfaces to write on and tools to write with. Get the kids outdoors with a piece of chalk to write the alphabet, practise their spellings, work on their handwriting or letter recognition. There are many ideas for literacy games to be found online. Can they write a sentence, a poem, or a story on the wall or ground for others to see, something positive that will make people smile?

7. Topic work — Imaginative outdoor play using chalk can open up lots of discussion points and with a bit of creativity these can be linked to a specific topic. Drawing flowers in chalk may be a good opportunity to talk about plant life cycles. You could even water the chalk flowers afterwards! You could draw different types of weather and discuss what causes them, create maps and discuss other countries or draw flags from around the world. There are so many possibilities!

8. Free play! It’s really important that children are given the opportunity to express themselves and let their imaginations run wild. Give them some chalk and let them create and decorate to their heart’s content! There are so many benefits to creativity, including promoting thinking and problem solving and reducing stress and anxiety. Don’t forget, whatever they come up with can be easily washed away if needed!

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