Outdoor Classroom Day – Kids Need to Play and Learn Outdoors

Today is Outdoor Classroom Day all around the world because kids need to play and learn outdoors! Over one million children, in more than 52 countries, and almost 10,000 schools are involved so far. But they don’t have to be in school to have fun outside. You can do this at home or at a care center.

kids go wild for nature

Being outside has tremendous benefits. “Learning outdoors creates lasting memories, helps build a greater awareness of the environment, provides more opportunities to think independently, and gets children feeling challenged and excited by learning. Children are more active when they play outdoors. It is essential for their healthy development and enjoyment of childhood.” (Outdoor Classroom Day)

Following are some ideas for outside play:

  • Take a hike. This can be as short as down the street or a long walk in a park. Instead of a walk, it could be a bike ride or a scooter one. Sometimes, kids like to pull stuffies in a wagon.
  • If you are at a park, kids can kick a ball, run around, and roll down a hill.
  • Either you or the kids can blow bubbles and chase them around the yard.
  • Hunt for some nature treasures like rocks, flowers, pine cones, leaves, twigs, and berries. These can be made into a fairy soup.
  • Draw a hopscotch on the sidewalk or find one in a playground.
  • Swing, slide, and climb at the playground too.
  • Play in the dirt. Or the rocks, or puddles.
  • Fly a kite. Check the internet for some super easy ones you can make at home.
  • If it’s warm enough, turn on the sprinkler and let kids run thru it. This appeals to kids of all ages, and grownups too.
  • Have a race with your shadows. Who will win? Do you ever catch up to your shadow?
  • Look for critters hiding in the grass or under rocks and logs.

Not only are there benefits for being outside now, but also far into the future. “Children who have the freedom to play today—making friends, getting lost in the moment, having fun—are better prepared for whatever tomorrow throws at them. Playing helps children build friendships, test their own boundaries and solove their own problems.”   (Outdoor Classroom Day)

outdoor play activities

This doesn’t only help them enjoy childhood but life. Kids need to play and learn outdoors, and so do we. Will outside play be a play-of-the-day at your house or early care center?


Combine Kids, Nature, Easter For Spring Fun and Learning

For some spring fun and learning combine kids, nature, Easter and enjoy this treat. We’ve done this activity before and were just waiting for a day to do it again!

spring Easter nature hunt activity for kids

Do your kids like to hunt for Easter eggs? Crystal, at
Crystal and Co calls this Reverse Easter Eggs. Kids start with eggs and instead hunt for things to put in them. It’s a sort of I Spy for spring scavenger hunt. Open 12 plastic eggs and place the larger half of each in an egg carton. Using just 6 doesn’t work, because then there are 2 items in each egg when you put them back together.  Then, dress for the weather and head outside for treasures to put in each.  This is what happened last time.

There were some wonderful spring surprises, like tiny little flowers hiding in the grass. Nature always has treasures such as bark, rock, twigs, dried seeds and pods, and other things down low at kid-level. Both Big Sister and Little Sister enjoyed looking for bits of nature. We tucked one item in each egg. Big Sister carefully closed them and we brought them back into the house. Opening the eggs to see what was hiding inside added to the fun.spring, Easter, and nature hunt activity for kids

With some sun on them, the rain puddles all around were sparkling like tiny jewels. We couldn’t put them in an egg but were happy to leave them outside. We left the daffodils outside too, almost like little suns.

Easter egg hunt nature kids

In a recent article for the New York Post, Naomi Schaefer Riley wrote, “nature provides a laboratory for kids, enabling them to make observations about their environment and allowing their brains to recharge.” Time in nature provides other benefits too, for physical and emotional development, like lowering stress and anxiety and increasing creativity, problem-solving, self-regulation, and social skills.

Instead of treasures at the end of the rainbow, these were kids, nature, Easter and spring treasures in the rainbow colors of Easter eggs. And maybe in the heart of a child too?

Visiting the Pumpkin Patch and Corn Maze Adventure

In between rainy days, we’ve squeezed in visiting the pumpkin patch and corn maze. What a special place for kids and grownups with lots to enjoy.visiting the pumpkin patch

The pumpkin patch engages our senses. Visually, it’s bright with color. The autumn leaves dance with orange, gold, and sometimes red. The pumpkins glow against the backdrop of the dirt or straw. The green of the corn stalks is fading and turning to soft yellows. Crows are big and black against the sky. Both sunny or grey days have much to see.

visiting the pumpkin patch

For the sense of touch, the pumpkins are heavy and mostly smooth. The stems are rough and bumpy. Our skin feels the cool touch of fall weather. The sound of voices and laughter fills the air. We can hear the crunch of leaves and straw underfoot and the grunts of kids carrying pumpkins as big as themselves. There’s an earthy smell tickling our noses. Our tongues anticipate the taste of hot chocolate and maybe some pumpkin treats and popcorn.

So much information comes to us thru our senses. For children especially, much of their interaction with the world is on a sensory level. No wonder it’s fun.

Not just bodies, brains participate at a heightened level too. Think of the special vocabulary as we talk about the patch: ripe, round, heavy, ridges, rows, small, giant, enormous, tiny, vines, bumpy, smooth, flat, stem, seeds, and more. If the pumpkin patch has a corn maze like the one in our area there are more words like stalks, corn silk, cobs, ears, and kernels.visiting the pumpkin patch

Picking out the right pumpkin takes thinking skills, such as comparing, problem-solving, and imagining. Choosing is an active process. How many and how big are math questions. Science is happening from the ground up and the connection to nature is all around.

visiting pumpkin patch

There’s no doubt visiting the pumpkin patch and corn maze is an adventure. For some families, it becomes an annual and much anticipated tradition. Could this be your family’s play-of-the-day?