The moment we have all been waiting for is finally here – the days are longer, warmer, and the outdoors no longer seem as treacherous and frigid as they once did. It’s a refreshing time of year – the grass is growing, and Easter is around the corner. Birds are chirping, snow is finally melting, everything seems fresh and new. The rainboots and rainbows are in full swing, the flowers are getting ready to bloom – it’s springtime. Get those raincoats ready and take an adventure outside – let’s spring into outdoor learning!
Learning and playing are not mutually exclusive; they go together better than peanut butter and jam. The outdoors is like a blank canvas when it comes to exploring and learning – the possibilities are never ending! Getting in touch with nature is a wonderful way for children to have new experiences and touch, feel and learn all about new things in new weather. A change of seasons is a great excuse to get off the screens and get into the sunshine – and it’s even more fun with planned activities and games that can go along with it!
The outdoors is like a blank canvas when it comes to exploring and learning – the possibilities are never ending!
What are the benefits of outdoor learning after a season change?
Going outside reduces stress, boosts energy, and improves your immune system. After long, frigid winters and months of indoor recess and playtime, chances are children haven’t been playing outside lately as much as they usually do in the warmer months like July and August. Colder weather often discourages us from being active and watching TV and playing inside is an easy substitute for play during the cold winter days. This makes outdoor play in the spring even more important to make up for all those freezing days and hours of play that were missed out on being stuck inside!
Children becoming familiar with the outdoors helps increase their physical health, helps boost self-esteem, social communication skills. It creates a positive sense of personal responsibility and awareness, as nature helps people of all ages become more in touch with themselves and identity. Being outside has been proven to increase happiness, attention, and help the body work better overall. Making an effort to get outside and be active can even help bring new and fresh ideas to your brain, and additionally helps cut back on screen time. Plus, who doesn’t love some sunshine and Vitamin C?
Making an effort to get outside and be active can even help bring new and fresh ideas to your brain, and additionally helps cut back on screen time.
What are some fun activities to do outside in the spring?
Sidewalk chalk. Sidewalk chalk is an easy favourite for kids of all ages – and adults too! Encourage kids to make a picture of something specific or allow them to create whatever their heart desires! Chalk can be used for so many things when it comes to outdoor play. Outdoor giant chalkboard flowers are weather resistant and a creative place to colour and draw with chalk. For a fun challenge, assign partners with sidewalk chalk and ask one person to draw and outline, and the other person adds on. The two partners can alternate adding onto the design. Another fun game to play with sidewalk chalk is hopscotch! Bonus tip: adding paint to the chalk can help make it a brighter and create stronger colours.
Jump rope. Cardio meets fun when it comes to this classic game! It helps develop coordination and balance! Grab a jump rope and get outside to burn off some steam. It helps get the jitters out and exercise at the same time. This kind of movement is great for children’s health and helps them clear their mind and improve energy levels. Set a good example and jump rope along with the children!
Blow bubbles. The giggles never go away! Blowing bubbles outside is a whimsical and playful activity that even adults can enjoy with familiarity and nostalgia. It is a super fun and relaxing way to spend some time outside. It’s simple, it never gets old and it’s super easy!
Play with toys and wash them outside. Kids love to play outside with trucks and many various other types of fun toys. Sometimes they can get dirty. When children play outside, they often get their toys full of mud, especially after a rainstorm, since these play spaces are often wet and muddy. Teach them how to wash them down their toys with a bucket of water and soap. This helps instill care and teaches children how to take pride in looking after their toys!
Painting eggs. Painting Easter eggs is a spring signature and well enjoyed by everyone. It doesn’t get more classic spring time than colourful Easter eggs! This is a great opportunity for children to practice hand eye coordination. For more precise and better finger muscle control, using a medicine dropper with paint can help little ones make their dream works of art come true. No craft would be complete without some glitter!
Jump in a puddle. Put those rainboots to the test! After a rainstorm, let children experience the magic of stomping and making a loud splash. It is a rite of passage for kids and a moment they will always remember! Getting messy and dirty is a great experience for children and helps them feel free. Children are very curious creatures, and it is an important part of early development to allow them to have these very tangible memories and discoveries.
Host an outdoor tea party. Introduce children to a fun and exciting lunch time with a pretend tea party! Send invitations to the “party” and suggest the children dress up for the occasion. This is an enjoyable way to teach children about how to get ready for events and a great way to make outdoor lunch more enjoyable. Pull out some small tables, chairs or benches and serve some cookies or cake. If the children aren’t fans of the tea, don’t worry! Substitute the tea with lemonade or water infused with fruit.
Fly a kite. Take a walk outside and learn to fly a kite! It is a great way to teach children a new skill. It helps them get outside, learn more about hand-eye coordination, gross motor skills, and encourages them to run around! Demonstrate how to fly the kite and then allow the children to follow and attempt to do it on their own. This is an amazing example of teaching them how to follow instructions and invokes them to have stronger peripheral awareness.
Outdoor workout. Use this fresh spring air to get some great exercise! Taking a walk is a great way to encourage children to move and be active and use this to help put in their head the routine of getting out of the house and centre. Going on walks and other various outdoor activity is also a positive way for children to connect with their friends.
Fairy garden. Adding a fairy garden to the outside of your centre is perfect for little ones that have a passion for all things fairies and magic. Decorate planters or flowerpots with small figurines or story sensory stones and create a beautiful scenery spot.
What are some fun outdoor spring games and sports?
Create spring nature art. Take a piece of construction paper and get some glue and allow children to collect and glue down different pieces of nature to a piece of construction paper – flowers, leaves, sticks and create a beautiful and creative picture filled with natural art! This can be an awesome introduction to identifying and learning about nature. Use this opportunity to teach children about the different types of trees, leaves, insects and flowers! Encourage them to label
Toss a ball. It can be anywhere – in a field, in the backyard. Throw the ball back in forth, kick it, or toss it. To make things a little more interesting, pick up a sport! It can be volleyball, soccer, soccer, dodgeball – anything that gets kids outside and active! There are really no limits – you can play whatever you want! Let children’s imagination run wild by letting them make up their own games.
Scavenger Hunt. Help kids learn with reading and finding things! Hide things around the yard and write on a checklist and encourage them to help find it! This can be a great way to start teaching early reading skills. Some things you can ask children to find could include dandelions, birds, rabbits, trees, insects, and other small things in nature. They will have a blast looking to identify and find these parts of nature, and it is way for them to learn how to use checklists and look for clues!
Parachute games. There are many games you can play with a rainbow parachute! There are endless activities to play when it comes to parachute’s that you can read about in the book, 3-2-1: Time for Parachute Fun. Every child looks forward to parachute day in gym class, so incorporating parachute time in your centre is a special and valuable time that children will always have a blast with. Add the parachute accessory pack and you’ll have everything you need for many days and hours of fun outside spring play!
What are some must have things to do to encourage outdoor learning in your centre in the spring?
Smell the flowers. Teaching children about the five senses can come to life in the spring, making hands-on learning the easiest it can be. Ask children to analyze and identify the signs of spring, and question about what they are noticing. What can they smell? What can they hear? This is a great way to help teach them about the world around them and start to introduce them to nature science!
Read a book outside. Upgrade usual reading time by sitting outside on a spring day! This could be reading to the kids, or the kids’ reading to themselves. One suggestion would be to read the All About Plants Series, a series focused on flowers, leaves, roots, seeds and stems. It features introductory vocabulary and gorgeous photographs about how diverse plants can be. Other activities usually done at desks like painting, colouring or crafting could also be done outside to soak up the season!
Start a compost. There isn’t a better time to start a compost bin than the springtime. It is an amazing way to eliminate food waste while focusing on being environmentally friendly at the same time. Use a See Through Compost Container so that children can witness firsthand the magic of decomposition. It is a great opportunity to eliminate waste in your centre and teach children about the importance of recycling!
Have lunch or snack time outside. Looking to add some sun into lunchtime? Bring it outside! All you really need is a blanket and safe area to sit and enjoy lunchtime, having an outdoor bench is an even bigger bonus. Add juice boxes for a quick and shareable beverage!
Take it easy. Soak up the sun and enjoy the warm weather. Sometimes the best thing for imagination, creativity and learning can be allowing it to unfold naturally. Let kids create their own world full of dramatic play and whatever their mind takes them too! Make having fun and being active a priority, and the learning is sure to follow.
Are spring outdoor games and activities essential for learning in childcare centres?
Not only is playing outdoors great for playing and exploring the world, it is also a valuable time for learning. Early development can set the tone for a child’s early years, and their brains are so busy learning and absorbing what the world is, and becoming familiar with nature, outdoor play, and the seasons changing. It helps encourage imagination and bonding between peers, and it creates valuable memories that children will always cherish.
Outdoor learning is about introducing children to old and new adventures and assisting them with connections to make the most of playing in nature. It’s even more important when the seasons change to help expose children to the new season, new experiences and new activities and help them remember these activities and lessons to apply them to their own lives. It is so important for mental and physical health to get outside when the weather changes, specifically when it starts to warm up. Outdoor play is so beneficial; it helps children make discoveries and help them identify and familiarize themselves with the changing seasons, different parts of the year, and the exciting and new world around them!
Outdoor learning helps encourage imagination and bonding between peers, and it creates valuable memories that children will always cherish.