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Teacher reading a picture book to families in an ECFE class
Taking Learning Outdoors

Mandi Sauer, Prekindergarten Teacher at Central Education Center

Learning can happen in any environment with your child, including learning outdoors in the woods, at a park or on a walk. Introducing your child to outdoor experiences has been shown to provide positive health and educational benefits for young children as well!

Some easy ways to make time outside even more purposeful are to:

  • Take a nature walk, counting the number of birds/rabbits you see while heading to your destination.
  • Look for things that start with letters of the alphabet! R-rock, T-tree, M-mud, W-woodpecker and so on.
  • Young children love to learn hands-on. Can you find sticks to draw letters and their name in the dirt or mud? Can you bring a small bag or egg carton with you and have your child find items to collect? Can you talk about what your child has found to add to their growing vocabulary? 
  • Collect at least five sticks. Can you sequence them from shortest to longest?
  • Play follow the leader and talk about going over, under, around and next to different objects to discuss positional words.
  • Stop to observe with your senses. What can you hear, smell, touch or see?
  • Let your child be the leader and decide which way to walk, talking about the route you are taking and the area around you.
  • Make a rock or leaf collection, and count and sort what you find. 
  • Take a listening walk together. Pause every so often, close your eyes, and listen. Ask your child what they hear. 
  • Look for letters of the alphabet on signs and other posted places nearby. Bring a paper with letters written on it. How many of the letters can you find?
  • Learn about circumference. By holding hands with your child, can you both reach all the way around a big tree you find?

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female child reading picture book while pointing with fingers

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female child reading picture book while pointing with fingers

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female child reading picture book while pointing with fingers

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