Are you looking for some inspirational outdoor learning activities for your little ones? Then look no further. Here are six fun, educational ideas for inspiring a love of the outdoors, whatever the weather.
1. Make a bug hotel. This absorbing activity is great for children of all ages. To make a simple bug hotel from found materials in your garden, you’ll need items such as sticks, bark, leaves, pinecones and any other natural materials you can lay your hands on. To attract beetles, insects and bees that are local to your area, stick with found materials from your garden. Cut a large plastic bottle into two, and fill both cylinders with all your sticks, cones, bits of wood and so on. Pack it as tightly as you can to keep it sturdy. The greater the number of tiny spaces there are for insects to explore, the more inviting the bug hotel will be to its guests! Decide where you’d like to put your bug hotel (maybe hang it from a tree or on the side of a wall or shed) and fix it with a piece of twine.
2. Mud kitchens offer the ultimate in sensory play and the benefits of a mud kitchen cannot be overstated. Mud kitchens inspire role play and encourage creativity: if you only install one piece of child’s play equipment in your garden or outside space, let this be it! Getting messy as we all know is good for the soul, and because cookery combines the skills of maths, science and art, building on these essential skills through creative play is a wonderful way for children to learn.
3. Build a den. Every child should experience the joy and satisfaction of making and spending time in their own den. Den building is a great team activity and an opportunity to let children’s imaginations run wild. Will the den be a hideout for outlaws? A shelter for woodland creatures? A meeting place for fairies? There really are no limits!
4. Make time for outdoor storytime. The sensory benefits of outside learning are well documented. A change of scene and some welcome fresh air can aid concentration and engagement – in both children and educators alike! If you have a focal point in your garden or outside space such as a tree, this makes a wonderful spot to gather for some outside storytelling. The tree canopy can provide shelter from the sun and rain and serves as a natural gathering place as well as inspiration for your story. If you don’t have a tree or a shelter, then you could make your own or have one installed. Or just get outside and sit on the grass!
Outside play ideas for toddlers and pre-schoolers
5. Outdoor crafts. The outdoors is the very best place to get stuck in with paints, glue, water, chalk and other craft materials – the clean-up job is much easier, too! Get creative with chunky chalks and draw a maze on the patio or create roads for toy cars, diggers and trucks. Why not try shower curtain painting by hanging up an old shower curtain on the washing line and letting the kids create masterpieces (with easy clean, water-soluble paints); or let toddlers use a ball to make a painting by dropping paint onto paper with a pipette and then rolling the ball/s through the paint until a beautiful work of art is created.
6.Go on a sound walk! Take some time with small children to really listen and focus on the different sounds you encounter and create outside. In the garden or park, give each child a stick and encourage them to explore how different sounds are made by tapping their sticks on a variety of different surfaces. Practice with different types of ‘tap’ to explore how the sounds might change. Through sensory play children will gain an understanding of the properties of different materials and enhance their descriptive vocabulary.
For more curriculum-based learning activities and forest school ideas visit https://www.ltl.org.uk/free-resources/ If you’d like to find out more about our wide range of outdoor play equipment and our picnic tables, shelters and seating options, please get in touch!