Try these educational games with your child or students to get them outdoors and have fun while they learn.
Outdoor education is a unique learning experience for students. It allows them to explore the natural world, learn hands-on, and put into practice the knowledge they’ve learned in the classroom. According to the Child Mind Institute, spending time outdoors builds confidence, promotes creativity and imagination, and reduces stress and fatigue, among many other benefits.
But outdoor education doesn’t have to be all about strict lesson plans. Simply playing games outdoors has plenty of benefits for children, including:
- The opportunity to learn new things
- Help with their physical development
- Boosting creativity
- Developing positive attitudes
- Personality development
- Improving attention spans
- Strengthening motor skills
- Improving love of nature
- Leading to a healthier lifestyle
When you’re not visiting us at Pali Institute—an innovative outdoor program offering educational experiences—try these engaging, fun, and educational games with your child or student.
Outdoor Educational Games for Kids and Students
- Catch Insects and Identify Them. A fun way to teach kids about nature is to send them off to find some creepy crawling insects and identify them. One way you could do this is by printing out a bug scavenger hunt sheet to find specific types of insects. Once you catch and identify them, look them up and learn more about them.
- Texture Scavenger Hunt. If creepy crawlies aren’t your thing, try this fun texture scavenger hunt instead. It’s one of the best outdoor education games:
“Place nature objects with different textures in several brown lunch bags. You could put a pinecone in one, a stick in another, and a stone in a third. Have your kids close their eyes and feel each object. Then send them outside to find a similar texture. As they find matching objects, introduce texture words like pointy, bumpy, and smooth.”
This activity is a great way for kids to practice fine motor skills, mindfulness, and vocabulary as they feel, observe, and name the things they’re feeling.
- Beach Volleyball. This is another great activity to get kids outside! Simply put, volleyball will allow kids to get some physical activity in their day while also practicing teamwork and social skills.
According to pediatric therapist Cara Koscinski, “catching a ball using both hands also teaches bilateral integration, a necessary skill for learning tasks such as cutting, buttoning and tying shoes.”
- Pool Noodle Obstacle Course. “Get creative with pool noodles and design an obstacle course. Lay them on the ground, cut them in half, attach them to a fence or hang them from a branch. Challenge your kids to jump over them, limbo under them, crawl around them or walk on them like a balance beam.” This is a great way for kids to get moving and have some fun.
- Nature Hike. One of the best ways for anyone to make discoveries is by going out in nature for a hike. Hiking can teach kids a number of lessons, from teamwork to patience and perseverance. It can encourage them to explore by looking for certain types of leaves, bugs, rocks, birds, and plants.
Hiking also helps kids connect with nature, learning more about the environment, how we affect it, and how to treat it.
- Identify Different Cloud Formations. A great way to get outside and be creative is to identify clouds and learn about the weather. Outside, take out some cloud identification cards to work with your child and identify the different types.
Different cloud types can predict particular weather patterns, which is a useful tool for anyone to have while spending time outdoors. Plus, it’s a good way for kids to start connecting everyday experiences with scientific explanations.
- Create a Map with Just a Compass. Introduce geography in an engaging way by using a compass to create a map of your surroundings—whether it’s your house, a park, or camp.
Use a compass to identify each direction and draw identifying landmarks on a piece of paper, based on their positioning. This activity can be a great introduction to orienteering and finding their sense of direction.
- Chalk Jump. Have students use sidewalk chalk to write numbers and letters in different colors. Then, have them jump on the number, letter, or color that’s called out. This activity “helps develop gross motor skills, counting skills and letter, number and color recognition.”
- Animal Survivor. Students learn the importance and dynamics of food chains/webs and how species depend on one another for survival. In a fast-paced activity, students are assigned an identity: carnivores, herbivores, or omnivores. They must search for food while avoiding predators: their peers!
- Balloon Rescue. In a fun twist on the classic Egg Drop Experiment, teams of students create a protective contraption for a water balloon. Students learn group dynamics through choosing roles associated with their project and experiencing how these roles must work together to be successful. At the conclusion of the experiment, students discuss the scientific principles of the drop and the teamwork involved.
The Ultimate Outdoor Education Program
In addition to the fun outdoor games you can do with your child or student at home or school, Pali Institute provides a comprehensive outdoor education experience. At Pali, we bring textbooks to life, and students experience learning from a whole new angle.
When kids need a break from educational programming, have them take a break with outdoor games that still promote learning. Whether you’re a parent or teacher, you can customize your Pali field trip by choosing classes from our extensive curriculum.
If you’re interested in visiting Pali, feel free to contact us with any questions!