Finding exciting outdoor activities for kids has become even more important for teachers with the introduction of Free-flow learning i.e. children being able to choose whether they play inside or out whatever the weather.
So with the summer on the way and better weather ahead I thought I would share some of the ideas I have tried with my kids.
Children learn best by experimenting. We as educators can facilitate this process by giving them the tools and letting them find things out for themselves.
Water play is one of the most popular outdoor activities for kids of all ages. When the weather allows, have the water tray outdoors and change the focus each day. This way they will enjoy experimenting and discovering new facts about water each time they choose this activity.
Here are some ways you can vary their focus:
1.Change the colour of the water on a regular basis.
2.Have plastic piping in the water tray with some washing up liquid so that they can blow through the tubing to make bubbly water.Lovely!
3.Make some paper boats with the kids and see how many plastic bricks they can load onto each one before they sink. This is good for their counting too. You can ask them how many bricks did they manage to put on the boat. Also you can ask them if they can think of a way of making their boat stronger or more water resistant.
4.Wash dolls clothes. Provide the kids with 2 bowls of water .One hottish and the other cold and ask them to add enough washing powder/liquid to make a lather. Ask them which bowl makes the best lather. Then get them to wash the clothes and wring them as dry as they can with their hands.
Then you could ask them to suggest a good place to dry them.You could use all their suggestions and see which one worked the best and why.
This outdoor activity for kids could go on to involve the question of absorbency. You could ask them to mop up the spills. Give them a sponge, a cloth, a sheet of newspaper, a piece of card and a sheet of plastic.and ask them to play detectives and find out which one works the best at soaking up the water.
5.Investigating different materials to find out if they are waterproof or not. Provide children with a watering can, a doll and some waterproof and non-waterproof materials. Ask them to discover which fabrics would make the best raincoat for their doll.
They could then make one to fit their model!
This site has a list of 31 water experiments you could try.
Making dens with my class was not my first intention. We were doing an RE topic on Private Places. I asked the children to describe the kind of place they would like to go to to be on their own to look at a book or just do nothing.
They came up with some fabulous ideas and so we decided to try and make some of these secret places out in the grounds of the school.
A den can be one of the simplest outdoor activities for kids. Just a rug over a table or 2 chairs is all you need but I guess the kids will want to make it more personal so just let them go with it and see what happens.
I let them bring some things in to school from home and every day little trolleys arrived in the classroom with stuff for the den! We were lucky and apart from the kids personal belongings we could leave everything outside. More of a problem if you have to cart everything inside each day. Perhaps in this case you could make one every now and again or have den days!!
Before I suggested this activity to the kids I asked the mums and dads for some large boxes.
Child size boxes, ones that they can climb inside!
They like outdoor activities for kids to enjoy so they generally respond well!
Then I read Mr Gumpy's Motor Car to the kids.
Afterwards I suggested we make some cars like Mr Gumpy's so we can act out the story.
First I got the kids to paint the boxes. Ideal if you can do this bit outside.
Then, depending on their ability, they need to cut out 4 wheels from some stiff card and paint those too.
They thought of the next bit and made a steering wheel to put on the front. Ideally it's best if you can get some big split pins so that the wheel can rotate.
I asked the kids if they thought we needed anything else on our car and one little boy said we needed a number plate so we made one of these too. One for the front and one for the back.Good for number recognition!
Lastly you can add a seat or two if you have room and then off you go!
Later on at the request of one of the students we made a car wash! To get rid of all the mud on Mr Gumpy's car!
I have more transport teaching ideas here if you want to expand on this theme.
This was one of the best outdoor activities for kids that I have ever done.
It was while we were doing a mini-beast theme and we had seen lots of snails in the school grounds. Some of the kids had brought them to me. I thought this might be a good time to discuss 'snail kindness' and how we can enjoy little creatures without harming them.
We collected a few snails and put them in a moist tray with some damp leaves and grass.
We used this opportunity to have a close look at them and try to find out how they move.
We found out a snail has no legs and moves by a 'foot' on its stomach which it contracts in and out thus enabling it to move along. It is called a gastropod.
We then thought of seeing how fast they can move so decided to have a snail race!
You can do this on the ground if you have a grass area but our play area was tarmac so too dry for the poor old snails .We set out a table in the shade and made some lanes with masking tape!
We then put one snail in each lane at the edge of the table and said 'ready, steady --- go!
The kids had been asked to choose one snail which they thought might win and I think we named each one too!
Well they went in every which way direction except in a straight line and they were determined not to reach the other side of the table. One snail,who we called the winner, got some of the way there but none actually reached the winning post!
The kids had so much fun doing it we had to do it a second time! This time we got the clock out and watched how long it took for the winner to reach the other side of the table!
Naturally when we had finished we put them carefully back where we had found them.
This is one of the easiest outdoor activities for kids to do during the spring and summer months.
All you need to do is pile up a few logs in a shady part of the play area and wait!
You will see more insects after it has rained and while the logs are damp.
The kids will love to lift up the wood and see the little creatures scuttling about.
They could draw some pictures of the insects that they see.
If the children enjoy this, then you could follow up with more insect activities.
This can be an on going task as one of your outdoor activities for kids to encourage them to take an interest in the weather. It can also be a way of introducing them to recording information they discover, explaining what they see and feel and guessing what they think might happen. All good stuff for them to do as it covers so many strands of the curriculum!
A Rain Gauge.
The easiest thing to start with is a rain gauge.All you need is a washing up bowl and a plastic cup.
Put the bowl outside and after it has rained see how many cupfuls of water has been collected. You can ask them to estimate how many they think there are and compare it to the next time. Do you think there are more or less this time? With older children you could make a chart over a period of time so that they can see how the rainfall varies.
What colour is the sky?
Make a chart with the kids allowing them to draw pictures of different types of sky.
Let them tell you 4 different skies that they have seen. For example: clear blue sky, sky with fluffy white clouds, overcast sky and black stormy sky.
Stick these on a chart and each day go outside and check which sky they they think is nearest to the one on the chart.
What do I wear today?
Again you can make this tall chart with the kids. Get them to draw garments they might wear in different weathers and sequence them on your chart starting with cold and going all the way though to very hot.You could alternatively take photos if it's easier.
Then you need a clothes peg and stick an arrow onto the end that clips the laundry to the line.
Discuss each day with the kids what clothing they think they should wear today. There might be some controversy amongst them but it all makes for good negotiating tactics in later life.
Point the pin to the garment they decide on.
Try some more of these outdoor activities for kids.