Pupils should ditch gadgets and climb trees in 2019, Damian Hinds tells schools

A new downloadable “activity passport” aimed at encouraging school pupils to ditch their gadgets and pursue “new interests” has been launched by the education secretary.

The printable document, which allows pupils to tick when they’ve completed 140 prescribed activities such as searching for butterflies and taking part in a Roman banquet, is part of a drive to boost resilience in children.

Other activities listed include climbing trees, staying away from home for a night, baking a cake and learning to sew buttons onto clothes.

The list will be sent to schools in January, but is not mandatory.

What’s on the inside – someone’s character, drive, resilience, and the ability to stick to a goal – is just as important as their academic achievements

Damian Hinds said the list was inspired by his visit this year to St Werburgh’s Primary School in Bristol, where every child is encouraged to take part in a list of tasks and experiences, with key achievements for each school year to tick off.

It is the second time in a week that the DfE has announced a new initiative inspired by the actions of a single school. On Thursday, the department announced Hinds’s desire to see all schools follow the lead of a school in Devon and go single-use-plastic-free by 2022.

There are 20 activities for each primary school year group, and they get more complicated as children progress through school. For example, reception pupils will be encouraged to visit a farm, fly a kite or dress up as a pirate, while year 6 pupils are urged to write a speech, learn how to access the news or visit a new city.

The front and back cover of the document

Damian Hinds said: “When I first became education secretary, almost a year ago, I went around asking everyone I met what they wanted for their children.

“The instinctive answer that came back was never about the curriculum or qualifications, vital as these are – what they wanted first and foremost was for their child to be happy and healthy. As a father that’s what I want for my children and as education secretary that’s what I want for all children in this country.”

Hinds said he heard “regularly” from teachers “that it’s important that children have the chance to try things out, to get a taste of the world around them, to see and do things that they wouldn’t normally do, or go to places they wouldn’t normally go”.

What year 1 and 4 pupils will be encouraged to do

“Experience is a great teacher and can equip children with valuable skills that prepare for any challenges life may throw at them. What’s on the inside – someone’s character, drive, resilience, and the ability to stick to a goal – is just as important as their academic achievements.”

The passports are endorsed by groups including the Scouts, Girlguiding, Action for Children and the National Trust.


The activities


  1. Visit a farm
  2. Paint a self portrait
  3. Plant some bulbs and watch them grow
  4. Go on an autumn walk
  5. Make leaf rubbings
  6. Make a sandwich
  7. Taste a new fruit
  8. Visit a place of worship
  9. Fly a kite
  10. Make a paper boat and see if it floats
  11. Perform a song
  12. Re-tell a story to an audience
  13. Post a letter
  14. Meet a friend’s pet
  15. Search for butterflies outdoors
  16. Take a photograph
  17. Make a treasure map
  18. Dress up like a pirate
  19. Look up where you live on a map
  20. Have a teddy bears picnic

Year 1

  1. Record different sounds and ask others toguess what they are
  2. Make some biscuits
  3. Make and taste chapattis
  4. Make a puppet
  5. Put on a shadow puppet show
  6. Borrow a book from a library
  7. Discover what is in a pond
  8. Create a piece of art for an exhibition
  9. Look up at the stars on a clear night
  10. Perform a dance
  11. Go on a hunt for some insects or small creatures
  12. Make a home for an insect or small creature
  13. Create a class collage
  14. Create a comic strip
  15. Take part in a play day
  16. Roll down a hill
  17. Make a daisy chain
  18. Join an extra-curricular club
  19. Build a den
  20. Perform in front of your class

Year 2

  1. Plan a party
  2. Play a board game
  3. Learn a poem off by heart
  4. Take a trip to the seaside or walk alongside a river
  5. Bake a cake
  6. Buy something and check your change
  7. Write a weather report for your class
  8. Build a bridge and test its strength
  9. Become a nature detective
  10. Dress up as a superhero
  11. Make a film
  12. Start a vegetable patch
  13. Pick blackberries
  14. Get soaking wet in the rain
  15. Go bird watching
  16. Learn a French song
  17. Walk barefoot on the sand or on a nature trail
  18. Start a collection and share it with your class
  19. Walk to a local landmark
  20. Make a mask

Year 3

  1. Compose a piece of music
  2. Take part in a Roman banquet
  3. Eat something you’ve not tried before
  4. Create a mosaic
  5. Design and make a board game
  6. Climb a tree
  7. Create a soundtrack for a piece of film
  8. Make a pinhole camera
  9. Make a musical instrument
  10. Light a candle
  11. Learn a new game
  12. Make something out of wood
  13. Cook outdoors
  14. Learn to play a game of cards
  15. Tell your class about your favourite character from a book
  16. Produce rubbings of fossils
  17. Try yoga
  18. Eat something you have grown
  19. Visit an art gallery
  20. Stay away from home for a night

Year 4

  1. Make chocolate
  2. Create a display for show and tell
  3. Write and perform a poem
  4. Perform in a play
  5. Watch a play or a dance production
  6. Use a camera to document a performance
  7. Choreograph a dance
  8. Make a sculpture
  9. Create a sculpture trail
  10. Explore inside a cave
  11. Walk through a forest
  12. Learn about a new religion and visit a new place of worship
  13. Make up your own game and teach it to someone
  14. Visit a museum
  15. Skim stones
  16. Visit a castle
  17. Swim outside
  18. Learn to sew on a button
  19. Go hiking
  20. Take part in a treasure hunt

Year 5

  1. Take part in a debate
  2. Learn something new about your local area
  3. Learn to moon walk
  4. Make and launch an air powered rocket
  5. Use an OS map
  6. Go orienteering
  7. Do a blind folded taste test
  8. Write a story for the Reception class
  9. Make a large scale model
  10. Visit a science laboratory
  11. Write a play
  12. Experience a Victorian school room
  13. Put on a performance
  14. Make papier mache planets
  15. Climb something that is taller than you
  16. Walk to the top of a hill
  17. Write in hieroglyphics
  18. Pick litter in your local area
  19. Plan and cook a meal
  20. Design and make an electric model

Year 6

  1. Keep a diary for a week
  2. Take a trip on a train
  3. Send an email
  4. Learn to knit
  5. Write a speech
  6. Vote in a school election
  7. Plan a tour around your local area
  8. Interview someone
  9. Visit a local charity and find out how you can support them
  10. Learn how to access the news
  11. Design a product or business idea and pitch it to ‘investors’
  12. Choose objects to put in a time capsule
  13. Write and record/broadcast a radio play
  14. Sleep under canvas
  15. Make a dessert
  16. Organise tea for parents and carers
  17. See the sun set
  18. See the sun rise
  19. Go on a picnic
  20. Visit a new city

Your thoughts

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  1. Cue much nagging of parents as children say they’ve GOT to do these activities as many (most) can’t be done without adult supervision and expense. Checklists like this, though worthy in an imposing sort of way, invite tick-box syndrome. Once an activity’s been ticked off, it risks not being repeated even when repetition is essential (eg knitting, swimming, sewing, borrowing library books).

  2. Completely agree. Trying to encourage students to take part in experiences is laudable and an important part of responsible parenting but all the school Have arguably done towards it is come up with a tick list of activities parents should do with their children. How on earth they carry out an evaluation of the impact of these many and varied ‘activities’ on the students is a significant issue. Without this evaluation it is little more than an arbitrary list of things to do and nothing more.

  3. Heather Weatherhead

    I am so glad that money is being spent on this! In my 40+ years of teaching I had never thought that children should do some of these activities! ( Sarcasm, for those who haven’t been taught what that is)

  4. Fantastic words from the Ed Sec here. Super to see there is so much support for pupil wellbeing, mental health and social relationships. Very exciting time to be part of the profession and helps bring more people into the world of education when they see emphasis on these areas. Top stuff 😀