To celebrate our new learning breaks, here’s a sneak peek at our favourite activities – why not give them a try?
Every year, one in ten young people experiences a mental health problem. Childhood mental health is a topic that increasingly makes headlines, and people are now waking up to the need to tackle it. It’s especially important for young carers, more than a third of whom struggle with mental health issues. That’s why we’re launching our new social and emotional learning breaks to support more children than ever.
Social and emotional active learning (SEAL) focuses on giving young people opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences. This programme enables the children to recognise and cope with their own emotions and those of the people around them, build healthy relationships, plan ahead, work in a team and become more resilient. It’s all about empowering learners to build skills they can carry on applying long after the activity is over.
To give you a taster of what our breaks involve here are some of our favourite learning activities. We found they were brilliant for team-building, improving children’s confidence and resilience – and also a lot of fun!
Andy Goldsworthy task
Artist Andy Goldsworthy is famous for making beautiful sculptures and artworks from materials he finds in the natural world. Take a look at his work and use a trip to the park, forest or seaside as an opportunity to make your own art, from pebbles, leaves, seaweed – whatever you find! As a team activity, this is a brilliant way to help children through planning and realising a project as a group and achieving a shared end goal.
At Honeypot our children love heading down to the forest to build dens – for this activity you’ll need an area with a few tall trees to build the dens around and some large sticks lying around to build the den walls. In teams, children work together to design a den, choose the best materials and construction method. This simple activity can be a great springboard for discussion. Round off the activity by chatting with the team about what roles different people played and the different strengths they showed. Who made good design suggestions? Who managed to find some good sticks? Who was a good team coordinator? Reflecting on and recognising everyone’s unique contribution helps children to understand how they can be a good team member.
Lead someone else blindfolded through the woods. Then take them to a particular tree and ask them to see what they can notice about the tree – texture, smell, any other non-visual clues. Lead them back to where you started and then see if they can identify the tree. We found that this was a brilliant activity for building teamwork skills and trust as well as improving observation of the natural world.
Gathering round the campfire is an important part of the Honeypot experience, and a great opportunity for learning as well. As well as singing around the fire and using it as a time to reflect as a group, we like to make campfire bread – the National Trust has a good recipe. This challenges children to follow instructions and plan ahead, as well as learning to manage risk . Making their own bread gives a real sense of achievement, not to mention tasty results!
Matchbox treasure hunt
For this activity you’ll need one empty matchbox per child and an outdoor setting. Challenge learners to see what they can find in the area that will fit into their matchbox. How many objects can they find? What is the most interesting thing they found? Reflecting on their experience is a good way to help young people cope with competition, as well as helping them to improve their attention skills when looking for treasure.
Here’s what our children thought of their learning breaks…
“I am proud that I have helped people achieve stuff they found hard.”
“I think that when I go back to school, I will be much more determined to achieve what I want.”
Honeypot is the national charity for young carers aged five to twelve. We do not receive government funding and rely on your donations to keep running respite breaks. Please consider supporting us by making a donation, attending or hosting an event, or making us your organisation’s charity partner.