1st Edition

Inside/Outside: A Nature-Themed Resource Book for Embedding Emotional Literacy

By Joe Harkness Copyright 2024
    142 Pages 27 Color & 22 B/W Illustrations
    by Speechmark

    142 Pages 27 Color & 22 B/W Illustrations
    by Speechmark

    142 Pages 27 Color & 22 B/W Illustrations
    by Speechmark

    Inside/Outside is a unique educational resource for those working with young people of secondary school age, providing a variety of tried-and-tested indoor and outdoor lessons and activities to promote and embed emotional literacy.

    The book is divided into three accessible sections: emotions and feelings; self and situation; and mental health and wellbeing; which each cover a variety of themes, from anxiety and depression, to happiness, communication, and confidence. For each theme, ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ activities are offered, with inside activities inspiring students to self-reflect and develop empathy for others, and those outside drawing heavily on nature and learning outside the classroom. The ‘outside’ activities are adaptable and have been designed to work in any available outdoor space, and all activities can be used either in standalone lessons or sequentially, with introductory tasks, group activities, and circle time discussions.

    With a focus on equipping students with meaningful and tangible skills to support them in the recognition, identification, and expression of their emotions, Inside/Outside will be a valuable resource for teachers, youth workers, home-educators and anyone else looking to facilitate nature connection and introspection in children aged eleven to sixteen.


    • What is emotional literacy?
    • Why emotional literacy?
    • Why outside?
    • How to use this book

    Section 1 – Feelings and emotions

    • What are feelings?
    • Sonic sit-space
    • Regulating emotions
    • Counting birds
    • Self-care and coping
    • Design-a-duck
    • What do we need?
    • Natural colours
    • Fear and phobias
    • Counting bugs
    • Anger
    • Sensory sit-spot
    • Happiness
    • Gratitude scavenger hunt

    Section 2 – Self and situation

    • Self-awareness
    • Texture bingo
    • Identity
    • Sense of place - street-work
    • Conflict
    • Our habitats
    • Communication
    • Mindfulness in nature – bird sounds
    • SWOT
    • Signs of sustainability
    • Respect
    • Counting wildflowers
    • Friendships
    • Bling up a butterfly

    Section 3 – Mental health and wellbeing

    • Mental health
    • Have-a-go-at-Haiku
    • Poor mental health
    • The A-Z of noticing nature
    • Depression
    • Nest building
    • Anxiety
    • Nature mandalas
    • OCD
    • Fashion a feather
    • Stress
    • Regulation - outdoors
    • An active mind
    • Nature calm jars



    Joe Harkness is a naturalist and SEND teacher from Norfolk, England, where he runs an autism base in a mainstream secondary school. In 2019, he wrote Bird Therapy (Unbound) which was longlisted for the Wainwright Prize the following year.

    "I couldn’t wait to start trying out Joe’s ideas which take personal development beyond the classroom and make it possible to engage a wide range of learners for whom chalk, and talk is not their preferred modality. Joe’s breadth, depth and clear ‘how tos’ make this book indispensable." - Pooky Knightsmith, Mental Health Ambassador and Educator

    "There are so many fantastic ideas in Inside/Outside that Schools can implement and embed across all subjects in their Curriculum. Teachers can use these creative ideas with resources to instil the importance and benefits of learning outside in nature, helping to support, boost young people’s health and wellbeing." - Edd Moore, Multi Award Winning Primary School Teacher and Eco Coordinator

    "Joe Harkness is a force of nature. Full stop. This book is a prerequisite read for any educationalist working within the complex world of emotional intelligence. By reliving his own experience, Joe forges a connection between the outdoors and positive learning experiences. From Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to the ever more prevalent awareness of mental health, he challenges the reader to identify their own triggers to an emotional response. Joe uses a level of psychology to encourage a level of self-reflection that is seldom seen in education. He has opened my eyes. A must read." - Darren Hollingsworth, Principal, Cromer Academy

    "They say, if you’re lucky when you’re at school, you’ll have one teacher who will change your life. I was lucky. Mr Carnegie was an incredible teacher who, besides officially teaching me English in the classroom, outdoors kindled a lifelong love and appreciation of the natural world. Quite unnoticed by me at the time, he gave me the tools to be a better person, a more thoughtful and calmer young man. This was decades ago. How many people now are so fortunate to find such a teacher? Perhaps now, thanks to Joe Harkness, a great many more may do so. Inside/Outside is written with insight on so many levels - it is perceptive, intuitive, and shines with his love for the natural world and the power it contains for positive change." - Jon Dunn – Author of Orchid Summer and The Glitter in the Green