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Muddy Faces

Exploring words outdoors

A number of simple ideas to help develop literacy skills and have fun with words in your outdoor setting.

Curriculum Outdoors


Simple ideas to give you some inspiration - helping you to develop literacy skills - quirky and unusual presentation of words in a natural setting will encourage fun and exploration.

* Muddy Faces actively promotes child-led outdoor play & learning. We recognise and believe in the curiosity that children have and their drive to explore and discover. We hope that you will bear this in mind when considering more prescribed activities like this one – often much more creative ideas will occur if resources are simply provided and children are given the time and space to explore independently.

What you'll need

  • pebbles
  • paint, brushes & tubs
  • water & container
  • collecting baskets for natural material
  • old sheet or light-coloured tarp

This activity has been provided by

Useful items from our shop

Item available from our shop

Environmental Considerations

Consider the environmental impact of preparing, carrying out & completing this activity. Could this impact be reduced? Specific considerations for this activity could include:

  • leave no trace

Health & Safety Considerations

Follow your usual operating procedures and carry out appropriate risk benefit assessments.
Some considerations particular to this activity include:

  • using rope

Idea 1:

the word fence written on a fence in water

Simply painting water on to walls and fences can be very effective, and soon after (especially in the summer), the canvas is blank and ready for more creative musings…

Idea 2:

the word steps written on some steps

There are many floor surfaces that water works well on, such as wooden decking, steps and yards.

Idea 3:

spray writing

A sprayer can be loads of fun – writing, drawing or just making the ground or wall change from one colour to another.

Idea 4:

stick writing on floor

Search out natural materials to make words out of, such as leaves and sticks.

Collect loads and head back to your site, making pictures and labeling them with natural material words.

If its a bit breezy stick to sticks – leaves end up flying around!

Idea 5:

sand writing piles

Many settings have access to sand – being allowed to use it on a surface not normally allocated to sand play can be stimulating to create pictures or words.

Idea 6:

mud writing on floor

We love a bit of mud (have you guessed?)!

Try creating a wonderful-consistency mud ink in the mud kitchen, then wander around writing mud messages.

This can be very absorbing and a great way to make the mud kitchen help older ones explore words, without missing out on the fun and creativity that mud play provides.

Idea 7:

painted stones writing

Write and paint on stones and pebbles.

Poster paints are great if you want to wash it off and reuse the stones. Use acrylic paints for a more permanent option.

Idea 8:

mud writing on tarp

Hang up an old sheet or light-coloured tarpaulin – this gives a lovely blank canvas for some mud or water-painting creativity.

Idea 9:

rope writing on grass

Use rope or string to spell out words – have a go at joined-up writing.

Take it further:

step written in water on a step
  • create your own ideas for presenting works around your setting – we’d love it if you shared them with us!
  • explore angles and perspectives
  • let the adults play!
  • – an adult paints various words around the outdoor space
    – then the children go on a word hunt
    – find the words and collect them into a message
    – try to work out what the message was written in, eg, chalk, paint, mud, water (need to be quick), sticks, stones, leaves
    – once they’ve had a go the children may want to create their own word hunt.

Disclaimer: Muddy Faces cannot take any responsibility for accidents or damage that occurs as a result of following this activity.You are responsible for making sure the activity is conducted safely.

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