How it works: Place nature objects with different textures in several brown lunch bags. You could put a pinecone in one, a stick in another and a stone in a third. Have your kids close their eyes and feel each object. Then send them outside to find a similar texture. As they find matching objects, introduce texture words like pointy, bumpy and smooth.
How it promotes learning: All of those new words will expand your little ones’ vocabulary. Discriminating between different textures also supports fine-motor skills like coloring and writing.
How it works: Playing volleyball with an inflatable beach ball is another worthwhile activity. You can also simply throw the ball high in the air for your kids to catch if they are too young to play an organized game. Challenge them to count how many times they can clap before catching it! (Hint: If they have trouble gripping the ball, simply deflate it a bit.)
How it promotes learning: You can probably guess that this game teaches counting and social interaction skills. Catching a ball using both hands also teaches bilateral integration, a necessary skill for learning tasks such as cutting, buttoning and tying shoes.
How it works: Gardening is connected with loads of developmental, physical and psychological benefits for children. Your little ones can help with the gardening and learn at the same time—it’s a win-win!
How it promotes learning: All that digging and pulling is great for sensory exploration as well as building hand and finger strength. It also promotes a love of nature and encourages children to look after the environment.
How it works: Get creative with pool noodles and design an obstacle course. Lay them on the ground, cut them in half, attach them to a fence or hang them from a branch. Challenge your kids to jump over them, limbo under them, crawl around them or walk on them like a balance beam.
How it promotes learning: Getting up and moving helps kids build core muscle strength.
How it works: Nature offers plenty of discoveries for kids. Help them explore by encouraging them to bring a collection bag and find certain types of leaves, rocks and flowers.
How it promotes learning: A nature hike encourages observation skills, fine-motor skills, hand-eye coordination and the use of the five senses in exploring the environment.
How it works: As the “critter,” you slowly move around the garden while narrating your movements. You might say, “I’m crawling under the swing. What letter does ‘swing’ start with?” Try to work in new words like climb, reverse and descend. Your kids are the “trackers.” It’s their job to follow you with their eyes and think about your questions.
How it promotes learning: Critter Quest improves eye movement and tracking, plus it can be used to strengthen vocabulary, letter recognition and phonetics.
How it works: Use chalk to write numbers and letters in different colors. Then ask kids to jump on the number, letter or color that’s called out.
How it promotes learning: This activity helps develop gross-motor skills, counting skills and letter, number and colour recognition.
How it works: Head outside with some music and host a dance party. Give short instructions for nature-based dance moves, like “wiggle like a worm,” “twist like a leaf” and “flap your arms like a bird.”
How it promotes learning: Kids get to practice following simple instructions while being active. The dance actions help children develop body awareness, coordination and balance.
How it works: Line up several hula hoops and have kids hop into the middle of each hoop with both feet. Make it a bit more challenging by encouraging them to hop into one hoop with their right foot and the next hoop with their left.
How it promotes learning: All that hopping builds gross-motor coordination skills, which are necessary for sports and bike riding.
10. Flower Artist
How it works: Gather your young artists and some paint near a flowerbed. Watch them create a colourful masterpiece!
How it promotes learning: Kids will hone their observation skills and learn about colours.
These 10 outdoor learning activities will show your kids how much fun being outside can be. They won’t even realize you’re teaching them new skills instead of watching them on their iPad or computers in the house.
Kids are constantly growing and learning every single day of their lives. They don’t need to be sitting behind a desk or computer screen to learn new skills. Encouraging your child to get their hands dirty in the garden will also help them develop valuable new life skills. After all, what could be more enjoyable than getting dirty, creating their own flowerbeds and watching things grow?
Gardening is not only a healthy, fun, and fulfilling activity that you and your children can enjoy together but it will also help your little ones develop new skills and expand their knowledge of plants and nature.