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Outdoor Learning Ideas for Pre-Schoolers

Learning doesn’t always have to take place in a classroom. Outdoor play is the best way for children to learn about the world around them as they grow and develop. If you’re stuck for ideas to keep your toddler entertained this summer, then look now further. We’ve compiled a list of fun outdoor activities to burn off some of that excess energy and keep your pre-schoolers from bouncing off the walls. Each one offers numerous learning opportunities to children and will enable them to achieve developmental milestones day by day.

  • Chalk families

Chalk is very affordable and it can provide young children with hours of fun. Lay your toddler down on the concrete and draw around their body with a chalk outline. Then swap places and allow them to draw around your outline before filling in details such as a face, clothes, shoes and fingernails. Chunky styles of chalk are the best option for young children’s small hands to hold and draw with. It’s a good idea to include other family members too as this will help to teach the pre-schoolers about size and shape whilst developing their own self-awareness.

  • Ice play

Ice play is a delightful way to cool down during hot summer days. Fill several containers with water and add a few drops of food colouring to each one. You can add leaves, flowers or even plastic toys before placing them into the freezer. Playing with ice teaches children about basic scientific principles from an early age. They’ll be amazed as they witness water turning into a solid and then melting back to a liquid again. This is one of the most exciting forms of sensory play and it encourages dexterity for little hands.

  • Gardening

Gardening is a great way to bond with your toddler in the garden. Invest in a large pot or planter for your child and provide them with their own child-sized gardening tools. The process is what’s important here. With toddlers, it’s unlikely that any flowers will survive their enthusiastic digging, but they’ll love to feel involved in what you’re doing. Toddlers will get a lot of enjoying from digging in the dirt with tools and both hands. Gardening with children is beneficial as it helps them to learn about natural processes, and they’ll be intrigued to see where food comes from.

  • Set up a reading area

Find a shaded area of the garden or park and set up a reading area with their favourite blankets, pillows and books. Being read to can bring on toddlers’ cognitive development in leaps and bounds, and it’s even more beneficial when they’re allowed to join in with the story and play an active role in asking questions. For babies, lying down in the sun with a gentle breeze on them is a really enjoyable sensory experience. Point out things that are going on nearby such as birds singing in the trees, a rainbow forming or the clouds moving around, maybe even look for specific shapes in the clouds. Look through your child’s eyes – sights that you may have seen hundreds of times may be a first for them.

  • Hang toys from tree branches

Appeal to your toddler’s senses by string up some instruments for them to find and play with. You don’t have to use instruments; you can use any object that makes an interesting noise when the wind blows on it. this will help to develop their motor skills as they will have to reach up to play. It’s also good for developing children’s eye health as they focus on moving objects that are blowing about in the wind.

  • Embrace the rain

The weather may be warmer during summer, but it’s likely that we’ll still have some rainy days. You should embrace the changes in weather and play out in the rain. Your children will enjoy the novelty of putting on a rain mac and wellies as they brace the outdoors to splash about in some muddy puddles. Children develop a sense of fun and adventure when trying out challenging jumping skills.


These outdoor learning activities will allow your kids to have so much fun that they will not even realise that they’re learning new skills. Spending time in your local park or garden is also the best way to encourage a healthy, active lifestyle and present your children with some leisure opportunities that don’t involve looking at a screen. Here at Garden Play, we believe that children are at their happiest when they’re taking part in fun outdoor play activities, and it’s even more exciting when they get to share these experiences with their friends or family members.


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