Top 5 ways to get children learning outdoors

Rob Cassidy

Rob Cassidy is the Marketing Manager at Canopies UK, the leading designer, manufacturer and installers of school canopies. They are huge advocates of active learning in schools, having launched an initiative called Operation Playground which provides five free lesson plans to schools with the aim to get children outdoors and creating their own playground games.

Follow @CanopiesUKLtd

Website: Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Using lessons to get children outside can provide an imaginative and fun way of teaching them about the world around us. From the history of the local area to the weather, here are five ideas on how you can use outdoors to offer new ways of teaching.

Create a Class Garden

A good way of getting kids to see how things grow is by creating a class garden. Many teachers have often asked their class to plant seeds, such as cress, to show how plants grow and talk about germination. However, going one step further and having a class garden can help youngsters to learn about and grow different plants, as well as getting them to care and appreciate what they have achieved. Planting vegetables can also be a good way of helping children to identify what they eat, as well as eventually showing how it can make healthy meals or give something back to the local community at Harvest Festival.

Educational Treasure Hunt

When the weather is dry, an educational treasure hunt is a good way of testing your class to see how much they have learnt, as well as helping to build key skills such as teamwork. Writing a series of clues that include both an educational task, as well as pointing children towards the location of a next clue, can test how much they have learnt in the previous year, across a term, or even across the whole year. Prizes can be some free time in the classroom or more in-line with what teachers already offer children for doing great work.


“To give you the last clue,
Face where the sun rises,
Between number three and number five,
Here’s where you’ll find the directions to the prize.”

Weather Observation

"Why not try getting them to do their own Art Attack moment by using school equipment such as beanbags to create an artistic drawing on the ground?"

Children often look at the different seasons and how this affects trees, plants and life around them. However, a good way to show how different seasons have different weather is to take them outdoors throughout the year and talk to them about the sun, how clouds work and how snow is formed. You could also get a weather observation station and get the kids to go out each morning to record how much rainfall has dropped since the previous morning, the direction of the wind and also the temperature. This can then be recorded on a class table, which they can count up. For children of an older age, you can also talk about different types of cloud and get them to identify and record this too.

Using outdoors to be artistic

Taking kids outdoors to sketch what they see can be a great way of getting them to try different methods of drawing different things such as plants, trees, birds or buildings. Children sometimes have extremely vivid imaginations, so one way of using this to an advantage is by giving them an area to sketch and then add their own ideas into it using different techniques and materials (paint, crayon). Or why not try getting them to do their own Art Attack moment by using school equipment such as beanbags to create an artistic drawing on the ground? Art projects can also be tied into different subject areas; for example, getting them to outline a map of Europe/the world on the playground using cones and then getting them to identify where different capital cities or countries are.

Animal Identification

You can use the outdoors to get children to try and see if they can observe and find as many insects and animals as possible in the playground area. In summer this could be insects like bees, ladybirds and butterflies and also animals like woodlice and beetles. You could also get them to observe different kinds of birds, note the colour markings of different ones and then see if they can identify them using books.

Whilst there are many ways of providing fun activities for children both inside and outside the classroom, the world around us provides us with many great opportunities. Outdoor activities can help keep kids’ attention throughout the day as well as giving them some memories that may help them remember what you teach them. There really is no place like the outdoors!

Do you ever get the chance to teach outdoors? Let us know in the comments.

’Tiverton: Two Moors Primary School Kitchen Garden’ by Lewis Clarke is licensed under CC-BY-SA-2.0
2‘ Bowl of Clouds’ byKevin Dooley is licensed under CC-BY-2.0
3 Photo by Weinstock is licensed under CCO 1.0
4 'Blue Tit’ by Tony Smith is licensed under CC-BY-2.0

Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support us.
When you register, you'll join a grassroots community where you can:
• Enjoy unlimited access to articles
• Get recommendations tailored to your interests
• Attend virtual events with our leading contributors
Register Now

Latest stories

  • How to handle stress while teaching in a foreign country
    How to handle stress while teaching in a foreign country

    Teaching English in a foreign country is likely to be one of the most demanding experiences you'll ever have. It entails relocating to a new country, relocating to a new home, and beginning a new career, all of which are stressful in and of themselves, but now you're doing it all at once. And you'll have to converse in a strange language you may not understand.

  • Is Learning Fun for You, Teacher?
    Is Learning Fun for You, Teacher?

    Over the weekend, my family of five went to an Orlando theme park, and I decided we should really enjoy ourselves by purchasing an Unlimited Quick Queue pass. It was so worth the money! We rode every ride in the park at least twice, but one ride required us to ride down a rapidly flowing river, which quenched us with water. It was incredible that my two-year-old was laughing as well. We rode the Infinity Falls ride four times in one day—BEST DAY EVER for FAMILY FUN in the Sun! The entire experience was epic, full of energizing emotions and, most importantly, lots of smiles. What made this ride so cool was that the whole family could experience it together, the motions were on point, and the water was the icing on the cake. It had been a while since I had that type of fun, and I will never forget it.

  • Free recycling-themed resources for KS1 and KS2
    Free recycling-themed resources for KS1 and KS2

    The Action Pack is back for the start of the brand new school year, just in time for Recycle Week 2021 on 20 - 26 September, to empower pupils to make the world a better and more sustainable place. The free recycling-themed resources are designed for KS1 and KS2 and cover the topics of Art, English, PSHE, Science and Maths and have been created to easily fit into day-to-day lesson planning.

  • Inspire your pupils with Emma Raducanu
    Inspire your pupils with Emma Raducanu

    Following the exceptional performance from British breakthrough star Emma Raducanu, who captured her first Grand Slam at the US Open recently, Emmamania is already inspiring pupils aged 4 - 11 to get more involved in tennis - and LTA Youth, the flagship
    programme from The LTA, the governing body of tennis in Britain, has teachers across the country covered.

  • 5 ways to boost your school's eSafety
    5 ways to boost your school's eSafety

    eSafety is a term that constantly comes up in school communities, and with good reason. Students across the world are engaging with technology in ways that have never been seen before. This article addresses 5 beginning tips to help you boost your school’s eSafety. 

  • Tackling inequality in EdTech
    Tackling inequality in EdTech

    We have all been devastated by this pandemic that has swept the world in a matter of weeks. Schools have rapidly had to change the way they operate and be available for key workers' children. The inequalities that have long existed in communities and schools are now being amplified by the virus.

  • EdTech review & The Curriculum Lab
    EdTech review & The Curriculum Lab

    The world is catching up with a truth that we’ve championed at Learning Ladders for the last 5 years - that children’s learning outcomes are greatly improved by teachers, parents and learners working in partnership. 

  • Reducing primary to secondary transition stress
    Reducing primary to secondary transition stress

    As school leaders grapple with the near impossible mission to start bringing more students into schools from 1st June, there are hundreds of thousands of Year 6 pupils thinking anxiously about their move to secondary school.

  • Generation Z and online tutoring: natural bedfellows?
    Generation Z and online tutoring: natural bedfellows?

    The K-12 online tutoring market is booming around the world, with recent research estimating it to grow by 12% per year over the next five years, a USD $60bn increase. By breaking down geographic barriers and moving beyond the limits of local teaching expertise, online tutoring platforms are an especially valuable tool for those looking to supplement their studies in the developing world, and students globally are increasingly signing up to online tuition early on in their secondary education schooling. 

  • Employable young people or human robots?
    Employable young people or human robots?

    STEM skills have been a major focus in education for over a decade and more young people are taking science, technology, engineering, and maths subjects at university than ever before, according to statistics published by UCAS. The downside of this is that the UK is now facing a soft skills crisis and the modern world will also require children to develop strong social skills as the workplaces are transformed by technology. 

In order to make our website better for you, we use cookies!

Some firefox users may experience missing content, to fix this, click the shield in the top left and "disable tracking protection"