This post has been inspired by my passion for getting children outdoors to experience the wonder and learning atmosphere that nature can offer us, and a recent workshop I participated in on Outdoor Learning. What I want to do (as you already know if you follow along with this blog) is to encourage families to get outside and cultivate a relationship with the natural environment. There are so many benefits to being outside, and I hope these things to do outside will get you out there more often.
This workshop was intended for Early Childhood Educators and early years professionals, and was facilitated by a lovely ECE who I am thrilled to be partnering with this fall as I return back to preschool teaching. You will notice the first bunch of ideas, inspired by the Outdoor Learning workshop, are less traditional in our current early learning communities, but are engaging opportunities for learning and skill building that can and are used safely with children every day in outdoor schools. Use these ideas with thoughtful care and ensure you know how to handle these tools yourself, so you can instruct and offer safety guidelines in appropriate ways.
Enjoy the outdoors, everyone!
45 Things To Do Outside
- Build a shelter – A tarp and some ropes, or pile up sticks between/on trees. Make a base for activities and gathering, and add some protection from the elements.
- Tie knots – There are a lot of knots to try your hand at, that improve fine motor control and are a valuable life skill. Here’s a fantastic book on tying knots (Amazon Affliate link, FYI) that you may want to invest in if you’re trying to learn some tried and true knots for different uses.
- Hammer – Nails and a stump can go a long way. Try a wooden mallet (you can make your own) if you’re not sure your little is ready to handle a real hammer.
- Whittle – For the younger ones who are new to using tools, try carrot peelers as a first step.
- Sawing – Children are often more capable than we give them credit for. Many outdoor preschools use tools in their daily activities, and if you learn how to offer the right tools and safely facilitate learning, sawing and other use of tools can be a very rewarding and beneficial learning experience. The outdoor learning workshop I attended recommended bow saws with double grips for cooperative sawing, and also recommended starting with the smaller saws, like this Grizzly 18-Inch Bow Saw (Amazon affiliate link). The saws used in the outdoor workshop were HDX bow saws.
- Collect natural materials – Do not underestimate the awesomeness of hunting for materials and practicing Loose Parts Theory.
- Build a fairy home – Take a look at these fairy homes on Salt Spring Island to get some ideas, but know that some moss and sticks will suffice for a more low-key and impromptu fairy home. You may also inspire further dramatic outdoor play with this idea.
- Make designs with rocks – Lay them out in any design or pattern that appeals. If you do this and leave them out in the rain, they may leave an interesting negative space pattern.
- Draw – Pencil, chalk, pastel, markers…. whatever you have.
- Write – poetry, songs, stories
- Sing – Sing any songs you like, or make up new ones.
- Scavenger hunt – Here are instructions to make your own outdoor scavenger hunt for any age.
- Geocaching – Not sure what that is? See the what and how of geocaching here. It’s one of the most amazing things to do outside with kids!
- Splash – Puddles, streams, lakes, ocean
- Beach combing
- Make a spiderweb – Use string or rope to wind around trees, swing sets, posts, or whatever you can think of.
- Gardening and planting – If you don’t have your own garden, consider using pots or check into a community garden.
- Go for a picnic – One of the most simple and relaxing things to do outside.
- Kick or throw a ball
- Harvest – Berries, fruits, vegetables, reeds. Whatever you can find and use.
- Paint – Watercolour, tempera, finger paint, etc.
- Obstacle course
- Sidewalk chalk
- Paint with water – Use water as your medium on rocks, walls, fences, decks,or anything else that .
- Adventure walk – Go on an adventure and find a new place to check out.
- Bird watching – If you’re on Salt Spring Island, here’s the local list of birds you can find here.
- Go fishing – For real or pretend with long grass and sticks.
- Make music – Grab some instruments, a guitar, a ukulele, shakers, harmonica, drums, or even some sticks to tap together, and start getting a rhythm going. If you have always wanted to, here is an easy way to teach yourself guitar or ukulele.
- Tell stories – There are a lot of different ways to tell stories. Stay tuned, I just organized my ECE bins and have some ideas to share soon.
- Sit spot – Find a spot to sit and simply enjoy the space, watch, listen, and think.
- Watch the clouds
- Clear paths – Spruce up some trails that need some love, or make your own trail on your private property.
- Litter pickup
- Disc golf – Find a disc golf (frisbee golf) course near you and enjoy the free and easy-going game or throw and walk.
- Play horseshoes or washers – They use practically the same idea, and you can find my free printable for Bocce, washers, croquet and neglin directions here.
- Play bocce ball – You can use a real set, or any balls you have for fun.
You can never run out of things to do outside, with or without little ones. If you’re looking for some more adventurous outdoor play ideas, there is another post I wrote with more details on 12 Outdoor Adventures to Raise Nature-Loving Kids, which includes some homeopathic medicines you might want to keep on hand when you’re out there adventuring.
So what kind of things to do outside are you taking on today? Will you get outside? Will you embrace the environment where you live and learn to manage the heat, cold, wind, rain, and snow throughout the year?
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