Outdoor Activities For School Aged Children

The great outdoors can be the best classroom of all.

Are you looking for fun home-learning activities to do with your school-ager? Our team of early childhood curriculum experts thoughtfully curated these home-education activities from our proprietary Life Essentials® curriculum to help your family Learn On® when away from the Academy. Whether it’s during mealtime, playtime, clean up time, bath time, or bedtime – our at-home curriculum is built so you can easily integrate school-from-home learning opportunities in seamless, easy, and fun ways.

Time Trials

Level of instruction: Easy

When: Outdoor

Time recommendation: 15-20 minutes

Participants: One-on-one, Siblings, Child-led

Learning Domain: Physical Development

Learning Standards: Gross motor development

Materials: Stopwatch or stopwatch app, pencil, paper


Invite your child to time him or herself running between two predetermined points. Encourage him or her to use a stopwatch to time how long it takes to get from one spot to the other. Invite your child to write down his or her time after each try. Encourage your child to compare times and to beat his or her previous time!

Did comparing your time motivate you to run faster? Why?

Neighbor Signs

Level of instruction: Easy, Moderate

When: Outdoor, Playtime, Quiet time

Time recommendation: 10 – 15 minutes

Participants: One-on-one, Siblings, Child-led

Learning Domain: Language and Literacy

Learning Standards: Letter recognition, Sight word recognition, Fine-motor skills, Social-emotional development

Materials: Paper, poster board or cardboard, markers


Create signs of encouragement, friendship and love to post in the yard for friends around the neighborhood. Invite your child to brainstorm simple sayings for his or her sign, such as “I love you”, “I miss you” or “Thank you”. Encourage your child to draw pictures of his or her friends at play or from the neighborhood. Post the signs in the front yard by a mailbox or on a tree.

How do you think your friends will feel seeing your sign(s)?

Building a Dam

Level of instruction: Moderate

When: Playtime, Outdoor

Time recommendation: 15 -20 minutes

Participants: One-on-one, Siblings, Child-led

Learning Domain: STEM

Learning Standards: Spatial reasoning, Observation skills, Fine and gross motor skills

Materials: Long shallow clear containers, sand, shovel, small rocks, sticks, play dough, napkins, pitcher of water


Challenge your child to build a dam that will stop water that is flowing downhill. Fill the container with sand. Invite your child to dig a river in the sand and decide on an area to build the dam. Provide your child with the materials to create the dam in the river. When he or she is finished, lift one end of the container. Encourage your child to test the strength of his or her dam by pouring water at the top of the river. Observe how well the dam stops the water from flowing. Try again with a different combination of materials.

What material was most effective at stopping the water flow? Which was the least?

Sense of Touch Boxes

Level of instruction: Easy

When: Playtime, Outdoor

Time recommendation: 5 – 10 minutes

Participants: One-on-one, Siblings, Child-led

Learning Domain: Cognitive Development

Learning Standards: Social-emotional development, Fine and gross motor development, Observational skills

Materials: 4 or 5 boxes, different textured objects to place inside (sicky, hard, soft, slimy, squishy, etc.)


Place one of the different textured items in each of the boxes. Ask your child to share some things that are pleasant to touch and some things that are unpleasant to touch. Ask him or her to describe the texture of the pleasant and unpleasant objects. Introduce each of the “touch” boxes. Explain to your child that there isn’t anything in the boxes that will hurt or harm him or her. Encourage your child to reach into the box without looking and share his or her reactions to each item through words and expressions. Once your child has touched each of the objects, invite him or her to guess the contents of each box.

What emotion did you feel when you touched each object?

Invisible Surprise Art

Level of instruction: Easy

When: Playtime, Outdoor

Time recommendation: 5-10 minutes

Participants: One-on-one, Siblings, Child-led

Learning Domain: Creative Arts

Learning Standards: Fine motor skills, Creative expression

Materials: White paper, white crayons, water color paint, paint brush


Create an invisible work of art! Invite your child to use a white crayon to draw a picture or write a word on the white piece of paper. Encourage your child to paint over his or her “invisible” drawing with the watercolor paint and watch as the drawing appears before his or her eyes!

What are crayons made of that may make them waterproof? Would this project work with white-colored pencils?

Looking for more activities for you and your child?

  • Quiet time: Encouraging low-key activities during quiet time helps children develop independent play skills.
  • Playtime : Make sure your child’s time spent playing is filled with opportunities to learn.

Or return to the Life Essentials® At Home page to find activities to explore with other age groups.

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