Outdoor learning activities for KS1 and KS2

outdoor learning activities

When the sun is shining, there’s nothing better than taking your learning outside!  

There’s certainly a lot to love about learning outside. It’s not only proven to build concentration and reduce stress, but it also gives children the chance to explore the world around them. This, in turn, can help to ensure they’re ahead of the game when it comes to topics such as biology, art and maths.

To help you get started with your outdoor learning, we’ve come up with some fun activities and games to help them explore the natural world and all its wonders, specifically designed for KS1 and KS2!

Outdoor learning activities for KS1 (ages 5-7)

Outdoor learning activities are a great way to engage KS1 learners in their learning!

1. Make a human clock

This activity is a great way to teach younger children how to tell the time. To get started, ask your children or pupils to create a large circle out of items they find outdoors, such as sticks, stones and the like.

Then, ask the children to form pairs, with one child being the hour hand and the other being the minute hand, and ask them to form specific times on the clock. If older children are playing, you could include 24-hour times for an added level of challenge. Taking a photo of their ‘clocks’ can help them to see how close they were to the right time!

2. Learn about shadows

Teaching children about shadows is a great way to explore light — while engaging their creativity!

Ask your children or pupils to create puppets or cardboard designs of anything they like, such as a robot, a dog or a cat. Then, head outside on a sunny day and ask them to position their shapes on the floor to make a shadow; they could prop their designs up with pebbles if needed.

Then, take photos of the shadow the object forms, or ask each child to outline it with twigs and stones. 

Leave the figures outside and head back every few hours to take another photo. This will show them how the shadow has moved during the day, showing them the effect of the sun’s daily orbit!

You could even take children back to their creations the next day to show them how shadows are in the same place at the same time of day.

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3. Create a maths scavenger hunt

Ask children to collect items from outside, such as flowers, leaves, pebbles and twigs. Then, depending on their maths level, ask them simple maths questions about their items. For example:

  • You collected four pebbles; how many more would you need to make ten? 
  • What would a third of the number of rocks you collected be?
  • If you added your twigs and leaves together, how many items would you have altogether?

Outdoor learning activity ideas for KS2 

These outdoor activities are specifically designed to bring the KS2 curriculum to life. Why not give them a go at home or in the playground?

1. Play outdoor bingo

Ask your children to fill out a bingo card with as many species and animals as they can find outdoors (they may need a little help with species names, but try to encourage them to spell the names themselves!). 

Then, return to the classroom or head home, and create a list of all the species spotted. Include all of the species the children found (and a few extra) before enjoying a full game of outdoor bingo! 

To make things even more exciting, you could give bonus points for the correct spellings being used. You could also add a little competition into the mix, such as challenging pupils to create the most unique card, to keep them engaged!

2. Create an outdoor garden

No list of outdoor learning activities would be complete without making your very own outdoor garden!

This doesn’t have to be overly complex, of course. But you might just be amazed by how enthralled young minds can become when creating and maintaining a garden!

Whether it’s in your garden or at school, encourage your children to grow simple plants such as flowers or watercress. Be sure to let them know what’s happening at each stage of growth, explaining the role of photosynthesis and the importance of nutrition found in the soil.

You could encourage children to follow the progress of their plants by recording changes in their height and appearance. Seeing their outdoor garden established by the end of the year can be a huge source of excitement for them!

Once the garden is fully grown, you could take things one step further by creating a flower-pressing activity to let your children or students create their own preserved keepsake from their garden.

It’s a simple lesson, but you can be confident that learners will be amazed by what they grew!

3. Make a biology scavenger hunt

There are a huge amount of differences between plants and animals. As such, one of the best outdoor learning activity ideas you could try for KS2 students is a biology scavenger hunt! 

Print out a guide on different types of leaves and flowers. Then, ask your students or children to go around the garden, park or playground finding as many of these as they can. 

This activity is a great way to help students understand the basics of differentiation. Plus, it’s also a highly hands-on activity, helping to keep busy minds active!

Final thoughts

It may seem a little tricky to know where to start when it comes to outdoor learning activities, but we hope the above list will provide you with some great ideas to start with! 

It’s important to find activities that help children to learn more about the natural world and, in an ideal scenario, also learn about core subjects. Luckily, all of these ideas for outdoor learning activities will help you meet both of these targets. 

Give your child or students the chance to unleash their own learning potential; outdoor learning activities are great fun, highly engaging, and effective ways to teach children new skills. Plus, there’s not as much tidying up after – so it’s really a win-win for everyone involved!

For even more ways to take your learning outside, why not download the Doodle apps? They can all be used offline, making them ideal for learning in the park, in the garden or even on the beach!

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