Making a story map

Use a large sheet of paper or a piece of interestedly textured fabric to create a 3D story map.

On it put the main features such as hills, a river, a wood and then encourage the children to add their own detail such as bridges, house, people and animals.

The map can be based on any landscape from a story the children know or a theme they are exploring.

Map used in the programme

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Animal homes

Create homes and nests outside for real wildlife in your outdoor areas. Homes for insects, hedgehogs and birds can all be made

simply using a range of materials. They should be place somewhere quiet and where you can monitor how the children treat the space.

Create temporary indoor homes for any soft toys of UK wildlife you have in the setting. You can use natural materials or fabric, wool, ribbon, raffia to help the children create nests that can be played with or used as a stimulus for role play.

More ideas can be found here:


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Handprint and footprint animals

Create woodland and riverbank animals with your children to populate a riverbank display or to place in habitats or nests. Animals like hedgehogs, magpies and moles can be made with a child’s painted footprint or handprint. Once dry use a variety of natural materials to decorate them such as leaves, feathers and sticks.

Some further ideas can be found here:


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Make your own boats


Why not try making small boats from junk materials for sailing in a tray of water or outside water features.

Or create indoor boats made from crates, washing baskets or cardboard boxes for the children or soft toys sail on blue fabric or rugs indoors.

Make a river landscape in your setting for toy boats or homemade boats to sail on. Create a long river with enough space for all the children’s boats to sail on using plastic or blue fabric laid across the room. Build bridges and features on the river and its bank for the children to practice small world role play with.

Materials – Tin foil trays, play dough, drink carton, corks, lollipop sticks, fabric and plastic scraps, cardboard boxes, baskets, long pieces of blue or white fabric, straws.

Here are some links to further ideas:


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Drama & Literacy Activities

Into the wild wood

Divide the class in half and stand on either side of the room creating a corridor of ‘trees’ for the volunteer to walk through.

One side of the corridor will make the sounds and shapes of nice animals/things you may find in a wild wood and the other half will represent possible scary things/animals you may find in the wild wood.

For example someone may turn into a scary tree with the sound of the whistling wind or, someone may transform into a bird and tweet.

Once everyone has decided what they are going to do; the volunteer as Portly walks down the ‘corridor’ and experiences walking into the wild wood. The volunteer may want to close their eyes.


Portly Goes Home

Ask the children to think about what Portly’s mum might have said to Portly once Ruby had brought her home. This could be explored with some pairs role play with one child as Portly and the other child playing mum or even dad. Ask the class some questions first about how the characters might be feeling and what they would like to say. You could model this in role yourself as a tired and repentant Portly and the class could be in role as mum.


Pack your bags!

If you were to go on an adventure like Portly, what would you need to take in your rucksack?  Think of different locations and landscapes for adventures: deserts, jungles, mountains etc. Think of the things you could take that would be the most useful or helpful if you were in danger or had to cross a river or climb a mountain?  Who would you like to come with you?

Imagine packing the bag together with your class using a rucksack real or imaginary and asking children to mime putting in their object and telling us why they want to take it on the adventure?


Write a postcard

Click on the image below to access a downloadable postcard template,  write a short message to Portly telling her about your adventure. Draw a picture or map of the of the places you have been on your adventure on the other side. Imagine what Portly’s address could be.


Portly’s Adventure

Imagine Portly’s adventure down the riverbank.  What did she see? What did she hear? What dangers did she encounter and what risks did she take?  You could use the pictures from Ruby’s map to help the children.  Make a list of the children ideas and then ask them to create still pictures from Portly’s unseen adventures.

* Still image. This is the creation of a still or frozen image using a group of people who freeze in a pose to capture a particular moment, idea or theme, as in a photograph or painting.


Ruby and Portly’s next adventure

Ask the children to imagine where Ruby and Portly could go on a shared adventure in the future.  What should they take with them, where could they go and what might happen to them?  This could be acted out or you could create ‘photographs’ (still pictures) taken on their camera during the adventure.


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