5 Fun and Easy Outdoor Fiction Writing Activities For Elementry Students

Cover photo 5 fun and easy outdoor writing activities/ a girl writing outside. She is looking up and smiling

I have tried so many different writing methodologies and activities indoors. Everything from Writing Workshop to straight-up writing prompts. I would often find that I would get frustrated as there would be so many students who simply didn’t care. To them these writing activities were work and as a result, they had trouble getting themselves motivated to write. However, I found that once we started taking writing outside things changed. The kids started to find new ideas and enthusiasm for writing. I found that especially with fiction writing, the students were coming up with much more interesting and well-developed ideas when we took our writing outside. These 5 outdoor fiction writing activities are a great way to get started with taking your writing outside and starting an outdoor writing routine.

Benefits of Taking Writing Outside

By taking writing outside, your students will not only be covering your curriculum content, but they will also be experiencing some of these other amazing benefits. More information on the benefits of writing outside can be found here.

  1. Your students will experience the overall benefits of outdoor learning
  2. Outdoor writing enhances students’ observation skills which also influences their descriptive writing skills.
  3. Spending time outdoors has been shown to increase creativity
  4. You have built-in subject matter all around you when you take writing outdoors
  5. Writing outdoors lends itself to be naturally cross-curricular in nature. Not only will students be working on writing skills, but they will also be immersed in science, social studies, and even art while they are outdoors.
  6. Spending time outdoors helps students to build a connection to nature and their learning space.
a boy leaning against a wall writing

Tips for Organizing Outdoor Writing Activities

  1. Clipboards or a hard writing surface are a must
  2. Have a set of extra pencils and erasers ready. I find that pencils tend to go missing frequently outdoors.
  3. Provide students with folders or a zipper pouch to keep their writing in. This allows them to take their work outside without things blowing away.
  4. Sit cushions (like these from the Outdoor Learning Store) make sitting more comfortable.
  5. Have a designated spot for lessons and sharing. This is especially important if you allow your students to have freedom in choosing their writing spots.
  6. Establish a writing routine. This way your students know what to do and understand why they are outside (they aren’t just playing!)
a girl writing outside looking up and smiling

5 Fun and Easy Outdoor Fiction Writing Activities

Animal Tales

This is a fun way to take on the perspective of different animals. In this activity, students pretend to be a different animal and write about an adventure from that animal’s perspective.

  1. Either brainstorm a list of animals that live in your area or provide a list of animals for the students to choose from.
  2. Each student chooses an animal to take on the perspective of
  3. Have the student explore your outdoor learning space from the perspective of their chosen animal.
  4. Students can then write about an adventure that their animal had from the animal’s point of view.
    • Some examples are:
      • A mouse being chased through the school yard by an owl
      • A fox encountering the playground or an item left outside by a student for the first time and wondering what it is
      • A bird looking for a place to make a nest in the schoolyard and testing out different space
a group of 3 kids studying birds in a tree using binoculars

What the Tree Saw

If trees could talk they could tell so many tales. So many of the large trees in our learning spaces are decades, if not centuries old. They have seen their habitat spaces change over the course of time that they have existed. In this writing activity, students take on the perspective of a tree in their learning space. They write about an event that the tree witnessed throughout it’s life.

  1. Have the students explore their outdoor learning space and find a tree that speaks to them. Have them make notes about the area the tree is in, what the tree can “see” (if the tree had eyes), and what surrounds the tree.
  2. You can either provide your students with a historical event, a recent event, or have them choose an event that the tree witnessed.
  3. Students can write from the perspective of the tree about the event, detailing what they saw and how they felt about it.
  4. Students can either write in storybook form, comic book form, or even as a newspaper article interviewing the tree. Choose a format based on the abilities of your students.
a girl sitting in the branches of a tree

Migration Journal

Every year many animals make an epic journey South and then return again. Over such a long journey, animals are bound to have some adventures. This writing activity can be a fun way to integrate mapping or studying migration patterns as well.

  1. Have your students choose an animal from your area that migrates each year.
  2. Your students can study where the animal travels to and perhaps even track their migration path on a map.
  3. Once your students are familiar with the path that their animal follows, have them brainstorm a list of different challenges, obstacles, adventures, or even imaginary fun stops that their animal might encounter along their migration journey.
  4. The students will then choose a few different events and write journal/diary entries from the perspective of their chosen animal.

Postcards from Afar

This is another migration-themed activity to get your students thinking creatively. Students will again take on the perspective of a migrating animal. They will write a postcard (or series of postcards) from an animal who has migrated South for the winter. This is a fun way for students to learn about another country and habitat as well as practice their creative writing.

  1. Have students choose an animal that migrates away from your area each year.
  2. The students will then research where that animal travels to for the winter. You can provide the students with specific research prompts such as:
    • What country or countries does this animal travel to for the winter
    • Describe the habitat that the animal travels to
    • Tell us a bit about the country that the animal travels to. What are some foods, activities, or interesting facts about the country.
  3. The students will then write a postcard or series of postcards from the perspective of their chosen animal from their migration destination. These can be a bit silly too, for example, students can write about going to the beach or drinking pineapple juice in the sun or visiting a local restaurant for some food.
    • if students are unfamiliar with postcards, you can show them some examples
a set of nature postcards

Nature Comic Strips

Comic strips are a fun way to help students really narrow down the important elements of a story. Through writing comics, students need to convey a story in only a few frames. They need to be concise and specific in their writing and drawing. This activity may appeal to some of your more artistic students as they get to showcase their drawing skills through their comics.

  1. Have students spend time observing and exploring in your outdoor learning space. Instruct the students to look for different activities or processes that are happening in the learning space. (For example, spiders spinning webs, insects burrowing, magpies collecting things, etc.)
  2. Provide the students with a comic strip template. (Choose a size and number of frames based on the abilities of your students or provide them with a choice of different frames.)
  3. The students will then choose one of the things that they observed in their learning space and create a comic strip illustrating the process. They can add an element of humour if they like. For example, a spider getting stuck in the web they are building, or a bird building a nest only to find out that they built it in a silly spot.
  4. These comic strips don’t need to be scientifically correct, students can add their own flair and imagination to them. The key is to get your students outside observing and then using these observations as inspiration for their writing.
a group of kids writing outside in a park

Now Let’s Get Outside and Write!

These 5 examples of outdoor fiction writing activities are just a few ways that you can get outside with your students and get writing. Let your outdoor learning space inspire your student’s writing and watch their creativity soar. You will be amazed by some of the amazing, imaginative works that your students are able to develop. Additionally, you will have the opportunity to allow your students to get outside, experience the many benefits of spending time in the outdoors, and help them develop a deeper connection to nature through writing.

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