Ideas and Activities for Outdoor Learning in EYFS Settings

April 23, 2018 3:28 pm
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Practical Ideas and Activities for Outdoor Learning and Education

There are many benefits to taking the classroom outdoors and giving young children the opportunity to learn in a natural outdoor environment. A recent study in England found that only 10% of young children now regularly play in the natural environment, so early years settings are perfectly placed to enhance a child’s growth and experience with outdoor learning and activities.

You may have heard of the Forest School movement, but there are also other ideas and activities which use the natural environment that can be incorporated as part of your early years provision.

Outdoor play and learning in EYFS can have many benefits, including:

  • Increased confidence and self-esteem
  • Greater ability to begin to play and learn independently
  • Increased social, sharing and teamwork skills
  • Development of language skills through wider imaginative play
  • Higher motivation and better concentration (children in outdoors settings have been observed to be more engaged and be able to concentrate for longer periods of time)
  • Development of gross and fine motor skills through playing and interacting with objects in the natural environment
  • Better knowledge and understanding of the natural world
  • Allowing for different learning styles, particularly kinaesthetic learning

Outdoor Play Ideas and Activities

There are some easy ways to experiment with outdoor learning and play, and as long as you make sure children have the right clothing and are protected (for instance with sun cream and hats if necessary), there is no reason not to be creative with outdoor space and environments as part of your provision.

The Woodland Trust produces a range of resources and downloads available for EYFS outdoor learning activities, split by age groups. The resources are free, fit with the EYFS and National Curriculum objectives, and practitioners do not need any extra training to take part.

For babies and toddlers:

Woodland Sensory Box Activity Sheet

Ladybird Potato Stamp Activity

Leaf Collection Activity

Touchy-Feely Texture Hunt

For ages 3-5:

Spring Scavenger Hunt Activity Sheet

Animal Track Hunt Activity

Sensational Spring Scents Activity

Woodland Wonders Activity

You can search a database of activities on their ‘Nature Detectives’ website by age and season, helping you to find activity ideas and download materials to make using the outdoors fun and structured activity that fits with early years objectives.

The Guardian also has a really useful article on ways urban settings can experiment with outdoor learning.

If you are interested in making outdoor or woodland learning and play a big part of your provision you may want to think about looking at the Forest School approach. You can find out more about how a Forest School works and the benefits it has here.

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