Educational Outdoor Activities

Written by Nicole Dean

Children everywhere love to play outdoors. When the weather is hot and the wind is blowing, you can find them enjoying the fresh air. Why not add a bit of learning to those outdoor activities? This gives children a chance to see that learning can be fun.

Have a car wash. Get some of the neighborhood kids together or the youth group at church and hold a car wash one Saturday morning. Local businesses are glad to let organizations use a portion of their parking lot for fundraisers. Decide on a price for the car wash. Have the older children make colorful posters advertising the event. Ask the parents of the children to provide at least one sponge, bucket, car wash soap, and a hose for the event. You may end up with more stuff than you need, but the more supplies you start out with, the more cars you can wash. Kids learn about supply, demand, and the importance of advertising. They also learn how to make money by using things they have around the house and taking a little initiative.

Learn to paint. Kids love to be creative. Set up a place to work either on the patio, porch, or in the driveway. Make sure that you purchase water color paints. These paints won’t stain and can be cleaned off of surfaces that they accidentally splash on. Since you will be outside, use large pieces of poster board for the canvas. Watercolors will soak through thinner paper and possibly tear the picture before it is dry. Set the children up with a big bowl full of water for swishing their brushes and a smock to protect their clothing. Let their imaginations create whatever scene they choose from the outside world. Creative arts foster the imagination and free the mind to see the beauty around it. Besides, it’s great fun.

Play a sidewalk game. When I was young, we loved to play hopscotch. The game teaches coordination and counting skills. Take a piece of sidewalk chalk and draw a hopscotch board on the ground. The squares are drawn as if stacked on top of one another in a one-two-one-one-two formation. Write one number in each square until you get to nine. Using a stone, throw it onto the board. Wherever it lands, that’s the square that you have to jump to. If you end on a single square, then you have to stay on one foot, reach down and get your stone, and throw it again. Each child continues hopping until they make it back to the start square or they lose their balance and fall off their square.

Create your own science experiment. Children love to make things with clay and putty. Give each child a tray or a sturdy piece of cardboard and a tub of clay. Let them make volcanoes. Their volcano should be wide at the base and narrow at the top with an opening. They can use a fourth of a paper towel roll as the center of the volcano. Their creation does not need to be very high. Let each child sprinkle baking soda inside the roll when they are finished making the volcano. To make it erupt, add vinegar to the baking soda. The resulting chemical reaction will send the baking soda running out of the top and down the sides. For a greater effect, add food coloring.

Play a game of kickball. Besides being fun for the entire family, the game teaches kicking, throwing, running, and catching. These are all skills that young children need to learn. Playing an organized game teaches them how to keep score, rely on their teammates, and learn good sportsmanship.

Outdoor fun doesn’t have to be boring or mindless. Regardless of what activity they are doing, children should be learning. Education doesn’t just take place within the classroom.

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