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Outdoor Learning and Nature-Based Activities: Connecting Children with the Environment

Today’s children and their families have fewer opportunities to connect with our natural environment. Over the past few years, several publications and research studies have documented the benefits of connecting to nature. For instance, improved cognitive development, better mental health, and developing healthy habits are just a few outcomes of connecting with nature.

In this post, we will present different outdoor activities for preschool children. Each of these activities can help parents and educators promote the overall health of young children, especially preschoolers. However, they work equally great for elementary school-age children, tweens, and even teens!

Best Nature-Based and Outdoor Learning Activities for Preschoolers

Here are some beneficial activities for young children.

Tree Hugging

According to research, spending time near trees can relieve stress, boost immunity, lower blood pressure, and speed up healing after an injury or illness. Additionally, hugging a tree causes the production of oxytocin, also called the ‘love’ hormone, which gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling. Taking preschoolers to a nearby garden and encouraging them to hug a tree will give them the same feeling. In addition, encourage them to climb trees while keeping them safe.

Scavenger Hunt

Take the children outdoors or to a nearby park to play this timeless game. The best part about a scavenger hunt is that children of all ages love it. Based on the cognitive abilities of preschoolers, you can choose a particular theme, such as ‘finding objects that are yellow’ or ‘four circular pebbles,’ etc.

Outdoor Learning Maryland Childcare

Growing Vegetables

Preschool children are old enough to know and understand how different vegetables grow. Plant some easy-to-grow vegetables with them, such as leafy greens, strawberries, and tomatoes. Let children water them regularly and keep a photo diary to track plant growth.

Create Rain Music

Young children love rain and the sound of raindrops hitting the ground. Take out some bowls, pans, pots, or aluminum foil to create rain music. The children will love dancing to this happening music.

Outdoor Learning Maryland Childcare

Nature Painting

Pick pinecones, twigs, branches, and leaves as painting tools. Who needs a paintbrush when you have these natural painting tools? Let the children discover how each creates a different mark on the paper.

You can also collect sticks of varying lengths and shapes to paint them in different colors. These sticks can become many things to small children, like a magic wand.

Building a Green Bean Tent

Set up a tent out of wire and poles in the garden. That’s a great summer activity to have some fun in the sun.

Catch a Bug

Explore the outdoors for bugs and butterflies. Children get excited when they spot a colorful butterfly or a teeny tiny bug. That will also help them get rid of any fears.

Digging a Hole

Grab your kid-friendly spades or encourage young children to use their fingers. Let them dig holes in the garden or the pots in your kitchen garden to plant some veggies.

Create a Nature Table

After a day at the park or a forest, let children create a unique space to display their collected treasures. For example, it can include sticks, acorns, pinecones, leaves, and pebbles. Keep a small table in the corner where children can display it.

Play with Their Curiosity

Play eye-spy, or collect same-colored materials together. Look for yellow, red, or green things and match them with the children’s clothes or other items nearby.

Imitate Animals

Let children play a game in which they imitate their favorite or different animals. For example, they can jump like a frog, crawl like a ladybug, or fly like a bird.

Outdoor Learning Maryland Childcare

Let them Explore

Children learn in several ways from exploring nature. But the key is to allow them to explore the outdoors at their own pace. For instance, there will be days when they only want to know about flowers, and that’s ok. You can introduce other subjects, like plants, birds, or clouds, on another day.

Bird Watching

Encourage children to become nature observers. You can start by teaching them how to become a bird observer. A great way to do this is to place a bird feeder outside the room or classroom so different species of birds can visit. Make a bird viewing basket with a small book about birds, binoculars, etc. That’s a quick and easy way of teaching children about birds and what they like to eat.

Find Shapes in Clouds

Do you often find animals, shapes, or names in the clouds? Your inner child must be happy every time you spot something new every time. A child’s imagination is livelier than ours, so it’s almost certain that they will find something new every time they look up in the sky.

Benefits of Outdoor Learning and Nature-Based Activities

There is sufficient research on the benefits of outdoor activities for children. They can learn to solve problems and think critically when they spend time outside exploring scientific concepts with curiosity, imagination, and wonder. Children who play outdoors develop better special awareness and can connect with nature easily.

Engaging them with natural materials in natural settings inspires and engages children, which motivates them to connect with nature. According to research publications, learning outdoors can improve overall well-being concentration, sustained attention, and emotions of well-being.

Contact MCCA Beverly Farms Ivymount

If you want your child to connect with nature and enjoy great outdoor activities, you will love the program at MCCA Beverly Farms Ivymount. Inspired by the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) approved Creative Curriculum®, the program values the personalization and individuality of children of all ages, which makes it stand out.

The program uses a play-based approach to teach preschoolers by tapping into their needs. Our qualified team comprises professional early childhood learning professionals who can help preschoolers connect with nature through a mix of nature-based and outdoor learning opportunities. Get in touch with us today to find out more about our program.

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