Though there is a lot to be said for indoor learning in a formal environment, more and more research is pointing towards the benefits of outdoor learning. The problem is finding enough fun and educational outdoor activities to justify consistent outdoor classes. Children can quickly bore of 'tag' and many children want something more diverse and stimulating.
The good news is, outdoor learning activities for preschoolers, younger children, and even high school students can be either academic, physical, or a mixture of both. Examples of academic activities include:
Children and Nature
- Nature hunts. Children walk around with checklists in search of various items and creatures found in nature. These can be a variety of things like ants, sticks, clouds, and trees. Nature hunts can teach teamwork, problem-solving, and perseverance.
- Outdoor Music. Put children in groups and encourage them to find outdoor materials like sticks, logs, and leaves to create short songs with. This gets them working in teams while introducing them to ideas surrounding music and composition.
- Regular Lessons. Studies have proven that being around trees, grass and green areas make people happier. This means that students can benefit simply by having some lessons outside instead of inside. Students also tend to be more excited to participate because of the change in their learning environment.
There are also plenty of fun outdoor games which are more physical. Benefits include teaching new skills and increasing the flow of oxygen to children's brains, thus making them more alert and attentive. Here’s a list of outdoor games that are more physical:
- Duck Duck Goose. I’m sure this classic game needs no introduction. Not only does it teach logic skills, but it also gets kids running around and energized.
- Sixty Seconds. This is a game where children must run around a space and use their own judgement to decide when sixty seconds is up. When an individual child decides that sixty seconds has arrived, they sit down. This is a good way to introduce children to ideas surrounding time as well as group mentalities. Children are encouraged to reflect on why they chose when to sit, and if other children sitting down persuaded them to do so themselves.
- Touch Bullrush. This is a game where one person starts out being a "tagger" and the rest of the students are "runners". The runners must line up on one end of the field and when the tagger shouts "bullrush" students must run from one side of the field to another while the tagger tries to get them. Whoever the tagger gets is now also a tagger. This continues until no runners are left. This is an active game that teaches teamwork and quickfire decision making.
Though these are just some of the recommended activities for fun and learning outdoors, there are a whole lot more educational outdoor activities that could fit your children's learning needs. Some of these require resources, like vegetable gardens, but like the above list of activities, most of them don't.
Another good thing about these activities is they can be done at home. Do some research and plan activities for your children's personal development. If your children are more interested in music, arrange activities around sounds and noises. If your children prefer activities with physical movement, play some games with them to get them moving.
Johanna Cider is a New Zealand based writer who loves writing about anything to do with travel and technology. Johanna has previously written for Australian sites such as Jumpflex trampolines. You can read more of her work on her Tumblr.
Children and Nature - under CC0 - Pixnio
Physical Activity – Under CC By SA 2.0 - Eileen Mcmahon via Flickr