The Dirigible Balloon
Poetry for Children

Outdoor Learning

There’s a squirrel settling into the staffroom
he’s had a wee sort through the Quality Street
sent by someone’s mum to keep the teachers sweet
but he only likes the purple ones with the nuts.

There are frogs migrating across the gymhall corridor
they’ve mistaken the boys' toilets for the courtyard pond
croaking from the cubicles, spawn in the sinks
tadpoles in the toiletpans, amphibian stinks.

The seagulls are strutting through breakfast club
demanding toast crusts with menaces
bagels garlanded round their necks
ruling the roost with squawks and pecks.

Fieldmice are nesting in the house corner
hiding in the roleplay box from owls and foxes
foraging in the schoolbags for cereal bars
seeking out seeds in the vegans’ lunchboxes.

Ever since we started outdoor learning
and flung the fire doors open wide
to take maths and science into the playground
the outdoors seems to have come inside.

What will happen if all those creatures decide to stay
set themselves some learning intentions
if hedgehogs develop a fondness for wet play
if pigeons take to phonics despite
only really mastering /oo/
and mathematical caterpillars
enjoy measure so much
they half-inch all the rulers?

Will we end up locked out
pressing our noses to the windows
listening to choirs of songbirds sing
hoping for the bell to ring?

About the Writer

Helen Elsley

Helen writes poetry for children and adults. She has contributed to anthologies as part of the Water Story project and was recently the winner of the GWL Bold Types Poetry Competition. She enjoys sharing and writing poetry with young people in school and writing groups. Some of her favourite poets are children.