Classroom Tips

Outdoor educational games | Benefits, ideas, and tips

The weather is finally warming up and the days are getting longer. Whether you run an after school program, summer camp, or other extracurricular activity, it’s time to start planning some outdoor learning. Getting children outside, especially if they have been sitting in school all day, can help them get their energy out, gain independence, and in general, benefit from the fresh air. According to Sharon Danks, the CEO of Green Schoolyards America, “...being outdoors is good for students’ social, emotional, and mental well-being.”

The great part about outdoor education games is that you don’t need to abandon the learning aspect of your activities just because you’ve moved outside. In this article, we’ll go over the benefits of outdoor learning and why educational games help children thrive. Then, we’ll provide a list of our favorite outdoor educational games that will have your students and campers learning and having fun at the same time.

Benefits of outdoor learning

Research shows that there are many benefits of outdoor learning for children (and even adults). Unsure if moving your activities outside is right for your business? This information should help. 

  • Outdoor learning decreases symptoms of ADHD and lowers stress levels for students and educators, according to research done by Evergreen.
  • Research shows that children who spend time outdoors during after school and extracurricular activities gain problem solving skills, empathy, improved motor skills, independence, confidence, and initiative.
  • Children who engage in outdoor education develop a better sense of place in their neighborhood and work harder to protect it. The American Planning Association says that, “outdoors learning experiences are the foundation of raising the next generation of active citizens who take care of their natural and human communities.”
  • The change of scenery and location differentiates extracurriculars, after school programs, and camps from school. When children finish school for the day or the year, they want to take a break. Outdoor activities are a great transition and will help children instinctively understand that they are doing something that is different from school that won’t require a grade.

Check out our article to learn even more about why teaching kid’s classes outdoors can be a game-changer for your business. Then, learn about how to build a classroom outdoors so you’re ready to bring your students into the sunshine.

Photo of benefits of outdoor learning

What are the benefits of educational games?

Outdoor play often revolves around games. The extra space provided and the fresh air often put people into a competitive mindset. But, did you know that playing games can also enhance learning? When children play games in a learning environment, they engage more fully with the content and remember it better. Plus, they get to have fun and learn at the same time! With no grades attached, this type of learning will help children get a better sense of the material as they interact and play.

Outdoor educational games

Now that you have knowledge of the importance of getting outside with your students and campers as well as the educational benefits of playing games, you might be wondering how to put these two elements together. Never fear! At Sawyer, we work with educators every day to smoothly run and grow their businesses. We’ve outlined some of their favorite outdoor educational games for children of all ages.

  • Catch the alphabet. This is a fun game for younger children. Gather the children in a circle and then toss the ball to one of them and say a letter. The child needs to respond with a word that starts with that letter. Then, they pass the ball to another child while giving them a different letter. This game helps children practice motor skills like throwing and catching as well as their letters and word association.
  • Math hopscotch. For this game, draw out 12 circles on the ground with chalk and number them 1-2. Then have the students roll two six-sided dice, add up the numbers, and hop their answers. You can have fun by switching up the ways they hop - one foot, two feet, dancing in between, and more.
  • Nature scavenger hunt. Have the children in your class head outside and look for specific items in nature. This is a great way for them to explore their surroundings and learn about the natural elements around them. Bonus points if you incorporate their findings into a science lesson, experiment, or project later on!
  • Rock collecting. If you are teaching a STEM or science class, a great outdoor educational game can be finding different types of rocks, collating, and identifying them. You can test for limestone by seeing if the rock bubbles when vinegar is poured over it. Plus, children can learn valuable information about the history of your area.
  • Trivia kickball. This game is set up just like regular kickball, but before you pitch the ball to the student, they need to correctly answer a trivia question. If they get the first one incorrect, that counts as one strike. Students still only get three strikes, so if they get two questions wrong and then miss the ball on their first kick, they’re out!
Photo of outdoor educational games

Bringing children outside for your activities is a great way for you all to enjoy the nice weather, explore nature, and have fun while learning. If you are looking for guidance on managing and running your children’s education and activity business, the team at Sawyer is here to help. 

With our suite of tools, like custom forms to record allergies and t-shirt sizes, flexible payment options like gift cards and installment plans, and seamless scheduling and registration on any device, Sawyer saves business owners 28 hours per month. If you are ready to spend less time on admin and more time doing what you love in the great outdoors, see how Sawyer can help with a free trial or demo.

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