We had another beautiful day for our outdoor education class! Teaching kindergarten I am always looking for new ways to bring our learning outside and new outdoor classroom ideas and activities.
The children loved our activities today. We spend a lot of time outside and do lots of nature based activities that encourage a love of the outdoors. However, sometimes I simply want to take the activities that I would do inside, outside.
The more time spent outside the easier it becomes to think of nature based activities. With the following outdoor classroom ideas, I’m hoping to show you how easy it can be to move lessons and activities to an outdoor space.
I always try to switch up the centers that I use and I try to have at least 5 options for children to choose from. These are just some of the outdoor classroom ideas that I used today.
Since I provide prep coverage for 4 different classes (preschool/kindergarten), I have to have centers that are easy to set up and will last through over 100 kids without me having to replenish supplies constantly.
Outdoor Classroom Ideas – Microscopes
The first center that I set up included microscopes. I encouraged children to search around the area for something from nature that they were curious to see really close up.
I also provided children with prepared slides of different plants and food. My students have had the opportunity to use real microscopes several times in class, but they had never used them outside.
The microscopes are not particularly expensive or new, and they are made for kids – which makes them prefect for outside. Since there ended up being a lot of children drawn to this center, I will build on their interest and get our school microscopes out again in the near future – I can’t wait!
Outdoor Classroom Ideas – Art Center
The next center that I set out was an art center. I laid out a piece of fabric on the ground to mark the center and placed wood slices, gems, googly eyes, leaves and pebbles in a bin in the middle.
I encouraged children to create a face using the materials, and any other materials that they could find outside. Children ended up with some beautiful creations.
The googly eyes add a fun feature to the natural faces, but some students just used stones and even dirt!
Each time I set up centers outside, I always try to include centers that target different interests and subject areas. I try to include a science or building center, an art and language center and then any new center ideas that I think children will enjoy.
Outdoor Education – Reading Nook
This was the first time that I created a reading nook. I used fabrics to mark the space and create almost a den. Then I placed some favorite books in the area. I wanted to give children a quiet space to relax if they felt that they needed, or wanted, to.
Inside or outside, I am always happy if children are reading and interested in books. I did not anticipate how busy this center ended up being.
A few children spent their entire outdoor learning period at this center. They loved the big books and the lift the flap books that I also set out.
For the most part children simply sat and quietly looked at the books. They did not play at this center, it became a quiet place outside.
Outdoor Education – Sensory Paint
I love using paints outside because there is less mess to clean up. Our painting today was not messy at all because the paints remained in the bags.
I used large zip up plastic bags. In each bag I poured a different color of paint. I then sealed the bag. To start, I let children simply create designs and pictures using their finger and pushing into the bag.
I later added something to each bag. I had prepared some sensory water beads. At first, I left the water beads in their own bag for children to play and feel. Later on I added some of the water beads to each bag of paint.
The children loved feeling the water beads squish around in the paint. They played and created by moving the bead through the paint to create pictures.
Outdoor Classroom Ideas – Sandbox Center
The final center that we used for our outdoor classroom was a mini town. Children love playing with mini characters and items. We have a sandbox that I am always looking for new ways to integrate into outdoor lessons.
I placed a box with a collection of small world play materials. I placed some fairies, plastic cups, stones, popsicle sticks and plastic mini houses. Children were free to create anything they could come up with.
The children often create sandcastles and dig holes at recess in the sandbox, but this activity encouraged them to look at the sandbox in a whole new way. Using the supplies they created paths from one house to another.
They used leaves and twigs from the surrounding area to create shelters and homes. Children used water to create pools and to change the look and feel of the sand they were creating with.
Another fun material that we added to the sandbox was plastic pipes. The pipes encourage children to think like engineers. Children created underground water systems and cover the pipes so that they were not visible above the sand.
If you typically use water or do this activity when you can supervise children with water, letting children use a hose and actually sending water through the pipes is a great way for children to test there creation and test for leaks or blockages.
The water can also help children learn that there needs to be a slight slant in the pipes when they are buried so that the water runs from one end to the other (with the help of gravity.)
There are lots of wonderful activities you can do outside. I hope that the activities in this post have given you some ideas to take back to your classroom, or home to try with your kids.
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More Hands-On Teaching Ideas
If you are looking for more activities and ideas to do in the classroom, or at home with kids, below are some of my favourite and most popular learning activities.
From more easy science projects, to more outdoor classroom ideas to escape rooms and choice boards there are lots of things to keep kids busy and learning.