Enjoy spending time outdoors and encourage a love of nature with this collection of outdoor learning activities for kids. Make the most of your time outside with this variety of hands-on, engaging activities.
One of my goals, as a parent and a teacher, is for my kids to spend more time outside and less time on screens. The benefits of time spent outside is valuable and important. Sometimes a simple hike in a forest is all you need.
Other times, planning specific activities to focus on different aspects of nature is a great way to learn and appreciate all that the outdoors have to offer.
I created a booklet filled with activities that kids will love to do as they spend time in nature. The best part is that all you need is the booklet, a pencil and things from outdoors.
Whether you are an educator looking for outdoor education activities, a parent or someone simply looking for ideas to keep kids engaged when outside, this Outdoor Learning Activities booklet is a great option.
For the month of August, save 50% off your purchase of the Outdoor Learning Booklet. Use coupon code “outdoorfun” and click Outdoor Learning Booklet for more information and/or to purchase.
For another quick and easy outdoor learning activity, check out a free printable scavenger hunt or to spend even more time outdoors, visit my huge collection of 63+ Outdoor Learning Activities.
Outdoor Learning Activities Booklet
One of my favorite things to do outside is simply walk and be mindful of what I am surrounded by. However, sometimes with children, having certain activities and things to focus on while outside can make the experience more meaningful.
This booklet brings learning from the classroom outside, as children explore math, science, art and even a STEM activity (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).
All you need to do these activities outside are:
- Outdoor Learning Activities Booklet
- A Pencil (or other writing instrument)
Outdoor Activities for Kids
Whether you use the booklet, or simply get inspiration from the pages, they are easy ideas to try outside.
I have used the pages in a few different ways. For older children, you can give each child a booklet and allow them to work their way through the pages independently.
You can also really focus your time outside by working through and completing one page at a time during each of your outdoor periods. Over time you can work your way through the whole booklet.
Another option you can try is to discuss each of the pages with children and then give them the choice of which page they want to start with. This way they can complete the pages in order of their interest and what they find when they are outside.
Finding Shapes in Nature
Adding a bit of learning to your outdoor time is easy as children search for shapes. The first page in the booklet sends children searching for six different shapes.
The shapes do not have to be perfect. It would be tricky to find an item that is a perfect star; however, you will be amazed at what children can find when looking for a specific shape. Leaves, stones and even flowers can resemble stars.
Give children a chance to sketch what they found for each of their shapes. Recording their findings on the page is also a great way to look back on what they found and tell about it afterwards.
This is my favorite page in the Outdoor Learning Activities booklet! We had a lot of fun with this page on a camping trip. Children are challenged to collect some beautiful pieces from nature and then create a face.
The circle face template is given on the page and children add different items in order to create a silly, happy, sad or even beautiful face.
An acorn becomes a nose. Grass becomes hair. Twigs become eyebrows and a flower becomes an ear. The possibilities are endless!
This is an easy way to incorporate art into your outdoor learning activities. You will be amazed at the different faces that children create. No two will be alike!
If children want to record their creations, they can trace the nature items onto their page.
Being in nature is one of the best and easiest places to be mindful and aware of your surroundings. The next page in the Outdoor Learning Booklet encourages children to find a quiet spot to sit and be mindful of what they see, hear, smell and feel.
When I did this activity, I encouraged the children to close their eyes, take deep breaths and then focus on each of their senses, one at a time. What do you smell? What do you hear, feel? Open your eyes and what do you see?
Move your hands and think about what you feel. Is it hard, soft, wet or maybe even moving?
After spending some time being mindful and focusing on each sense, take some time to record what your senses noticed.
For more mindfulness activities, check out my collection of 53 Mindfulness Activities for Kids.
STEM Challenge for Kids
I love STEM Challenges. If you have never tried a STEM challenge before, they are activities that incorporate one or more Science, Technology, Engineering and Math skill. STEM challenges are hands-on and use simple materials.
For this Outdoor Learning Activity STEM challenge, children search nature for a collection of rocks and then use them to create a tower. Children will build and discover what type of rock is best. Do flat rocks stack best? What about small rocks?
This activity was definitely my kids favorite in the booklet.
Challenge kids to build the tallest rock tower they can. They can only use rocks that they found around them in nature. If their tower falls down, they experiment and build it again and again until it is as high as they are happy with.
The tower has to be able to stand and then the child can draw a picture of it in their book. If it stands for long enough to draw a picture then they have completed the STEM challenge successfully. Or children can keep building and making their tower even better!
For more STEM activities and STEM challenges, check out my collection of over 45 STEM Challenges that you can try today!
One of my favorite things about STEM activities is that I am always surprised and impressed by what children come up with.
I try not to give a lot of restrictions or suggestions for children when building, except safety rules of course, but otherwise children will get creative and come up with solutions that I never thought of.
When my kids did the rock tower challenge, one of my children interpreted the challenge to mean using small rocks to build with.
Another child started collecting larger rocks to build with. Depending on the age and ability of the child, building with the large, heavy stones may not be a good idea. However, if it is done safety this can be a great building challenge.
Many science curriculums include animal habitats and animal homes. The booklet includes a page for children to search, and sketch an animal and an animal home they find.
This is a great opportunity to search and look for where animals live. It is also a good opportunity to talk to children about never disturbing an animal home.
Depending where you are looking for a home outdoors, you may find a lot of evidence of animal homes. However, the animal home you find can be as simple as an ant tower or a bird nest in a tree.
There is also another page in the book that asks children to look for, and then draw a picture of an animal they spot in nature.
Outdoor Learning Activities Checklist
A classic outdoor learning activity is a scavenger hunt type check list. No collection of outdoor activities is complete without this challenge.
This booklet includes a list of twelve items commonly found in nature. This is a great page to use during a hike or trip to a forest. The things children need to find are simple and commonly found in most nature areas.
However, if you know that there is something on the list that children will not find, then you can print a picture of the item and post the picture of the item on the path you will be walking.
Nature Art Painting
I like the fact that all you need to complete this booklet is a pencil and things found in nature. For this outdoor art activity, children will ‘paint’ the page using things found around them.
Children are challenged to choose a few different items and rub them on the page. If it leaves a mark, keep rubbing to fill the circle. Things like dirt, leaves and even some flowers are great for coloring. Please discuss with children, and supervise as they do the activity to make sure not to pick any berries or other things that could potentially be poisonous.
This activity is also a great learning opportunity to talk to children about how paints were made in the past. Materials from nature were squished down to create dyes for clothing and other things.
For another nature painting activity, check out my Homemade Nature Paint.
Outdoor Learning Activity Nature Imprint
The final page of the Outdoor Learning Activity booklet gives children the opportunity to find a tree trunk and a leaf and rub to create a print of the texture.
Children place the trunk, or the leaf under the page and lightly rub to leave a print of the texture on the page. This can also be done with the side of a crayon if you bring crayons instead of pencils for your outdoor time.
It is interesting to compare the different marks that the different items leave. Children can then be encouraged to find other materials and put them under the page to make another, different mark.
Overall, the book is filled with easy to do, no prep, engaging outdoor learning activities. For me, this booklet was a great way to focus my outdoor learning time with my children. They loved working through the pages and we spent hours outside focusing on nature.
For educators, the booklet records some of the amazing things that children learn outside. It also gives children the opportunity to talk about and show their parents everything they discovered and learned outside.
By spending time outside and being mindful when in nature, I hope that it creates a love and appreciation for the outdoors and our earth.
Another option for your Outdoor Learning activities booklet is to laminate each of the pages. The booklet works well as a center for children to visit in an outdoor classroom environment. Children can use a dry erase marker to complete the pages and then it can be erased for the next child to use.
If you laminate the pages, you can also have a small group work on and complete one page, or a few pages at a time.
For outdoor education teachers, choosing one page each class to focus on and really take time to learn about and explore is an easy way to plan your program and have a record of all of the learning.
Click here to view the booklet featured in this post.
To view, or purchase “My Outdoor Booklet” click here. Don’t forget to use the code ‘outdoorfun’ for a limited time only to save 50%.
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More Hands-On Teaching Ideas
If you are looking for more learning activities that kids will love, below is a collection of favorite and most popular activities for kids.
From more outdoor learning activities to a backyard escape room, there is lots to keep kids busy, and learning.
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