Outdoor Learning Activities with Free Printables

Outdoor learning activities and games are trendy among children, especially during the summer holidays. Children benefit a great deal from spending time outside exploring and adventuring in the green outdoors.

Outdoor learning activities round up montessori nature hands on (7)

Getting kids outside and active is important, and luckily nature offers a wealth of fun activities for them to enjoy. Hiking trails, observational scavenger hunts, and camping trips are all great ways to get kids outside and teach them about the environment.

For younger children, consider exploring local parks to search for different types of leaves, rocks, and insects. Children can also participate in planting their own garden, bird watching, or building a fort. Additionally, activities like bug catching, fishing, and doing nature-related arts and crafts can be both educational and enjoyable.

There are endless possibilities for fun hands-on activities in nature for kids. Some ideas include building a fort using branches and leaves, creating a nature scavenger hunt, making mud pies or sculptures, creating leaf rubbings, planting a garden, collecting and identifying rocks and shells, learning to tie knots with rope, building a birdhouse or bird feeder, going on a nature photography scavenger hunt, and making outdoor art with found materials like sticks, pinecones, and leaves. The options are endless, and getting outside and exploring nature can provide a great opportunity for kids to learn and have fun at the same time.

Animals and their homes montessori nature sort matching free printables sign up
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Maria Montessori, founder of the Montessori Method, believed in the importance of nature for a child’s development. She once said, “The land is where our roots are. The children must be taught to feel and live in harmony with the Earth.” Montessori also believed that nature can foster a child’s curiosity and love for learning, stating, “The study of the science of nature at once awakens this feeling of reverence and provides an outlet for it.” She emphasized the need for children to be connected to the natural world, as it can inspire creativity, imagination, and a sense of wonder.

The Montessori approach believes that nature and outdoor experiences are essential for children’s development. It fosters children’s connection with their environment, providing opportunities for exploration, observation, and appreciation of natural phenomena. The outdoor setting allows children to experience a sense of wonder, awe, and curiosity, which in turn stimulates their cognitive, emotional, and spiritual growth.

Montessori schools incorporate nature-based activities, such as gardening, hiking, and camping, as part of their curriculum, helping children develop a sense of responsibility for the planet and a positive attitude towards sustainability. Overall, nature is seen as a rich source of learning and inspiration for children in Montessori education.

Montessori schools emphasize nature-based activities that foster children’s love and respect for the environment. These activities include exploring the woods, gardening, hiking, bird-watching, and observing insects. Children learn about animal habitats, plant growth, natural cycles, and the importance of conservation. Children also participate in activities that encourage them to use their senses, such as smelling flowers, touching leaves, and listening to bird calls. These activities promote children’s physical, intellectual, and emotional development, and help them connect with the natural world. Through nature-based activities in Montessori schools, children become responsible and knowledgeable citizens.

Nature’s classroom is fascinating and incredibly diverse. These ideas will inspire you to spend some fun and meaningful time with your child outdoors.

Outdoor learning activities round up montessori nature hands on (7)

Fine motor activities – supply threads, a needle, and nature objects (dry berries, chestnuts, flower buds) and invite the children to thread them to make garlands or natural decorations for the child’s playroom or classroom.

Outdoor learning activities round up montessori nature hands on (7)

Gather leaves and other natural loose parts to create a craft.

Outdoor learning activities round up montessori nature hands on (7)

Outdoor learning activities round up montessori nature hands on (7)

Outdoor learning activities round up montessori nature hands on (7)

Outdoor learning activities round up montessori nature hands on (7)

Outdoor learning activities round up montessori nature hands on (7)

Magic wands with sticks and woolen threads. Gather different color woolen threads. Invite the children to cut strings and wrap sticks in different color woolen threads.

Outdoor learning activities round up montessori nature hands on (7)

Leaf art. Gather acrylic paints, threads, a needle, and brushes. Invite the children to gather leaves and paint creating various patterns. After drying, invite the child to thread leaves to make garlands.

Outdoor learning activities round up montessori nature hands on (7)

Building fortress with sticks. Invite the child to gather sticks and build a fortress.

Outdoor learning activities round up montessori nature hands on (7)

Help the environment. Gather garbage bags and rubber gloves. Head to the popular public outdoor spaces and invite the child to hunt for loose papers and plastic bottles to help clean up.

Outdoor learning activities round up montessori nature hands on (7)

Gather old pans and pots along with measuring cups and scooping tools. Allow access to mud and water. Invite the children to dig and make their hands dirty to have sensory play outdoors.

Outdoor learning activities round up montessori nature hands on (7)

On a windy day, gather kites for the children to run kites outdoors.

More Inspiration for Outdoor Learning and Play

Colour Hunt In Nature – Montessori Outdoor Explorations by Montessori Nature

We began an outdoor nature colour hunt by brainstorming possible colours we might find along the way and made the chart. My role was to remind what colours were on our list to help the child to stay on task. Attention to detail is a great skill to teach young children. The magnifying glass does a great job when it comes to that. Looking at different colours of blooming trees and flowers was a perfect opportunity to reflect on the previous week’s topic – parts of the flower. 

Outdoor Activities for Children with Free Seven-Day Planner by Montessori Nature

I have to admit, it is not always easy to come up with engaging hands-on ideas children would enjoy doing outdoors that complement and extend their learning about the outside world. I’ve got a solution I hope will make educators’ and parents’ task of taking learning in nature a lot easier – my seven-day planner with outdoor explorations.

Sensory Explorations Outdoors – Touch With Nature Hunt Printable by Montessori Nature

On a gorgeous sunny day, we took a trip to a local park to do sensorial explorations using hands and learn more about touch. It was a great way to extend preschooler’s vocabulary knowledge and experience textures using natural materials.

Montessori Inspired Explorations At The Beach by Montessori Nature

Taking Montessori classroom outside creates great opportunities for hands-on learning using minimum materials and effort. Sun, fresh salty air, the sound of crashing waves – what a perfect setup for fun explorations for kids. We headed to the beach to do fun Montessori activities as a part of the preschool homeschool program.

Rain Cloud In a Jar Science Experiment Plus Types of Clouds Printable by Montessori Nature

This Rain Cloud in a Jar Experiment is a great way to engage your children aged 3-6 in conducting a simple science experiment before heading outdoors. Looking up in the sky on an overcast day can be quite relaxing and entertaining.is Rain Cloud in a Jar Experiment is a great way to engage your children aged 3-6 in conducting a simple science experiment before heading outdoors. Looking up in the sky on an overcast day can be quite relaxing and entertaining.

“Build a Nest” Scavenger Hunt [Printable Spring Nature Activity for Kids!] by thecrazyoutdoormama.com

I’ve made a fun printable scavenger hunt + instructions that can actually be turned into a sort of “scavenger satchel” (don’t worry, you’ll get it when you see the pictures!) so that the nest process is fun for everyone involved.

Diy Paint Brush – Natural Paint Brushes Even Kids Can Make! by applegreencottage.com

Making your own DIY paintbrush is easy, fun, and free! It will get you and your kids out in nature and kids will have a blast collecting natural materials – And pine needles make fantastic homemade paintbrushes!

Exploring Sunography: Making Sun Prints by intheplayroom.co.uk

Making sun prints is a perfect outdoor art activity for summer. My kids found the process fascinating and there is lots to learn while experimenting, about how photography works and how we can replicate this with sun light.

Exploding Mud Nature Science Experiment by thimbleandtwig.com

If you’re homeschooling at the moment – you’ll love this Mud Nature Science Experiment that’s easy to do at home in your garden or any outside space. We’ve had a lot of fun with the kids making these mud exploding monster!

Nature Play Ideas by redtedart.com

Many of these nature play ideas can be “built” on one home and when you can add a dab of paint or a piece of string or glue. But, all of these ideas work “just as they are”, nothing but nature needed for lots of different play ideas.

How to Make a Terrarium During Your Preschool Gardening Theme byteaching2and3yearolds.com

Inviting young children to make small terrariums is a fun addition to the preschool gardening theme. They are fun to assemble, and it’s a great way for kids to learn how to take care of plants.

Outdoor learning color matching game by nurturestore.co.uk

This color matching game is very easy set up and lets you explore lots of different natural materials for some sensory learning. Begin by using chalk to draw some color blocks on the floor. We made a kind of hopscotch grid, but circles or a rainbow are good too.

Fairy gardens for children outdoors by communityplaythings.co.uk

Childhood is a time of imagination. Every child needs to be given time and space to play out what they envision in their minds. Children’s literature is full of woodland folk – dwarves, elves, fairies, pixies and gnomes. Take these imaginary creatures into your outdoor play and allow children uninterrupted time to build fairy gardens for woodland folk using natural materials. Building a fairy garden will absorb a child’s whole being, maximizing his or her attention span, imagination and creative skills.

Making Mandala Art with Kids by playfullearning.net

Over the last few months I have been exploring creating art with a circle formation or mandala art. Creating mandalas is a delightful, beautiful and easy activity which you can do almost anywhere and at anytime. All you need is a small collection of materials – I prefer natural found objects such as shells, pine cones, driftwood and sea glass. You can use any collection you have be it coins, sticky notes, hair clips, or cutlery!

An alphabet by flickr.com

This series of photographs is a tribute to my students of the PCV course: this year they were asked to work on alphabets. Since childhood, I have always felt profoundly unfair that the teachers assigned tasks that they have never played in person.

Finding Symmetry in Nature (Outdoor Math Activity for Kids) by buggyandbuddy.com

We turned a recent walk in the forest into a lesson on symmetry- such a fun, hands-on way for kids to learn math! We searched for symmetry outside and even created our own symmetry art using nature we had found on our walk!

Leaf People Fall Craft by fantasticfunandlearning.com

If you are collecting items outdoors this fall, this is a fun and easy leaf craft kids of all ages can create. It’s one of those “classic” activities that has become one of our fall traditions.

Nighttime Vacation Activities by everystarisdifferent.com

During the day it was easy to keep the kiddos entertained on our vacation last week.  There was the shore, the beach, busy bags, and so much more.  At night I knew it would be a little more difficult.  In preparation for the trip I came up with a few activities to have on hand just in case.  They proved to be fabulous!

Free Printables for Learning about the Natural World from the Resource Library

Nature hunt and quest activities encourage children to observe and explore the natural world around them, fostering a sense of curiosity and wonder. They promote outdoor play and physical activity, allowing children to engage with their environment and develop gross motor skills. By searching for specific items or completing tasks in nature, children also enhance their problem-solving and critical-thinking abilities. Nature Hunt and quest printables stimulate language development as children communicate and articulate their observations and findings. Engaging with nature has been linked to improved mental health and well-being in children, promoting a sense of connection and appreciation for the natural world.

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Other Printables for learning about nature you might find helpful in your classroom

About Anastasia - Anastasia is an early childhood teacher and the founder of Montessori Nature - a blog about Montessori living and learning and nature-based explorations. With many years of experience working in a Montessori environment and homeschooling her children, she directed her passion for all things Montessori and nature into creating educational resources. You can learn more here and browse her printables on Teachers Pay Teachers.