Children learn rapidly during their early years of development. This is especially true during the crucial age range of three to five years old. During these early years, young minds are growing and becoming more aware of the world and their surroundings.
Playing outdoors provides the perfect environment for children to explore and learn. They can begin developing important skills that they will need later in life. Outdoor activities can offer a hands-on experience that is ideal for exploring these skills.
The following information explains the benefits of outdoor play and how it can be used to develop a wide range of skills.
Key Areas of Childhood Development
Childhood educators often focus on three key areas of development. These areas include personal, physical, and communication development for children.
Physical development for children involves developing hand-eye coordination, motor skills, and the overall health of the child. Personal development is more complex and includes emotional and social skills.
A lot of the curriculum taught at preschools and kindergarten revolves around communication development. Teachers want to help children develop their abilities with various language and communication skills, including math, literacy, and the arts.
While outdoor activities and group play are the optimal settings for developing personal and physical skills, these activities may also assist with communication and language skills.
Outdoor Activities for Math
Outdoor activities may offer the chance to learn numbers and work on counting skills. These objectives are important for children between the ages of three and five. There are also many different objects that you can find outdoors for children to count.
You can have children count rocks, leaves, trees, or any other object that they spot. You may even have them count birds or squirrels.
Another option is to have the children collect objects, such as leaves or small stones. After collecting the objects, have the children arrange them on the ground and count them out.
You may also count steps. When walking a short distance, count each step. Count to ten and then repeat the process.
Combining the collection of objects and counting steps, you can create an outdoor scavenger hunt. Bury several small toys or objects. Create a map that indicates the number of steps from your back door to each treasure. Your child needs to count the number of steps to find the hidden objects from the treasure map.
Outdoor Activities for Literacy
The outdoors also provides a great setting for story time. Instead of reading indoors, go outside and enjoy the fresh air. The outdoor environment is not as formal as the inside of a classroom. The openness may help shy readers take part in reading the story.
With the freedom of open space, you can also encourage children to act out parts of the story. Allow children to stage their own mini-plays based on the stories that you read or reenact their favourite parts of the story.
Outdoor Activities for the Arts
Outdoor play can also help encourage children to express their artistic side. Allow children to be creative and inquisitive. They can use their surroundings for imaginative play and ask questions about the things that they see. For example, a tree trunk may be the throne for a king or queen and a learning resource.
You can explain how trees add layers of wood to the trunks each year. When the tree is cut, the visible rings can be used to count the age of the tree. Each dark ring represents one year. Allow the children to help you count the rings, providing the chance to work on numbers and counting.
The outdoors is also a fantastic place for arts and crafts. It is often easier to clean up a mess when you are outdoors and do not need to worry about getting paint and other debris on the floor.
Outdoor Activities for All Types of Development
Many of the activities discussed can help with the development of communication skills. Having the children take turns reading a book during story time helps children with public speaking. However, there are other ways to combine physical, personal, and communication development outdoors.
Playing outdoor games may help teach communication, teamwork, math, literacy, and more. Examples include hopscotch, hide and seek, races, rock stacking, pass the ball.
Hopscotch helps develop muscles and math skills. Depending on the age of the children, you may need to make the hopscotch grid small so that they can safely jump from one number to the next.
Hide and seek is useful for developing social and cognitive skills. However, it should only be played in secure areas
where children cannot wander off.
Racing is a great way to develop muscles. You can even make it a team activity by having the children compete in relay races with a toy as a baton. However, instead of running, the children should walk from the starting line to the finish line.
Rock stacking helps to promote better motor skills and visual judgment. Children can stack flat rocks on a table or the ground to see how many they can stack before the rocks tumble over. You should also have the children count the rocks as they stack to help with their counting skills.
Pass the ball is another simple outdoor activity that encourages teamwork, communication, and dexterity. Use a large inflatable ball that the children easily handle with both arms. Have the children stand in a circle and hand the ball over to each other, instead of trying to throw the ball.
How Much Time Should You Spend Outdoors?
The typical recommendation is for children under five to get about three hours of activity each day. The physical activity may include running, playing in a sand pit, or any other outdoor activity that requires physical movement. These activities help to strengthen muscles and the brain.
Whether you are a teacher or a parent, you should understand the importance of outdoor play. Children do not need to spend all their time indoors. Consider using some of these suggestions to include more outdoor time in your daily schedule or curriculum.
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