Young children are known for their energy. Hardly a day goes by when elementary-aged children aren’t bouncing off the walls, zooming around with excitement, or creating chaos in the hope of finding something fun to do. However, parents and teachers often find that they run out of ideas when their kids have gone through all the usual activities and are still complaining that they are bored. If you have an excited kid who needs something more to do, we have a few suggestions for some fun outdoor activities you can do with your elementary-age students to liven up classroom time, make recess more fun, or fill the time during after school hours.
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We hope you’ll find that at least one of these activities will excite or entertain your students, from preschool through elementary age.
Place a series of brown paper bags on a table containing natural objects with interesting textures, such as pine cones, rocks, leaves, etc. Have students close their eyes and feel the objects with their hands. Then, send the students outside to look for similar textures and see if they can identify what was in the bag from the texture. Describing the shape and texture of objects will build vocabulary, while touching objects can help to build fine motor skills.
Set up a series of cones in the field and divide students into two teams. Have one team try to knock the cones down and the other set them up again. Run rounds of 2-4 minutes and at the end of each round count how many cones are standing or knocked over and award points. After several rounds, the team with the most points will win.
Take the kids on a nature hike to see and explore new things like oak or palm trees. Have the kids look for a list of plants, bugs, rocks, or other things that they can find in your local area. Taking the kids out in nature is a great way to build observation skills as well as fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination, as well as building a respect for nature.
For this activity, you will be the critter and imitate an animal as you move around the playground, field, or yard. As you move, ask your students questions. Have them be “trackers” following you around and answering questions about where you are going, how you are moving, and what you are doing. Work in new vocabulary (especially in early second language courses) to help them build skills while they chase you around the yard.
Have students line up in an open field with two jump ropes marking the start and finish lines. One student is designated the shark and will attempt to tag the minnows as they run across the field. Anyone tagged becomes “seaweed” and sits down and can tag players in the next round. Repeat. The last minnow standing wins.
During the spring, summer, and fall, having students work in an outdoor garden is a great way to develop motor skills, provide sensory experiences, and help students to understand the life cycle of plants. As a bonus, they will be able to see the results of their work and eat the vegetables that they produce. It’s a great way to get students outdoors and develop an appreciation of nature and where food comes from.
Use pool noodles to develop a fun and creative obstacle course to build students’ motor skills and muscle strength. You could use them to direct students around a course, or ask students to jump over them, limbo under them, or walk across them like a balance beam. Be creative and see what your kids enjoy.
Using sidewalk chalk, write letters and numbers across a parking lot or driveway. Then, call out letters, numbers, or colors and have students run to stand on the matching characters. This activity can help students to build their character recognition skills as well as gross motor skills. For added fun, you could alter the activity to make it a bit more like either Twister or Musical Chairs, depending on how creative you want to get with it!
Take the kids outside with some kid-friendly tunes and ask them to perform dance moves based on nature that you can see. For example, you might ask the kids to twist like a leaf, or to hop like a squirrel, or flap like a bird. This activity can help to promote bodily awareness and coordination, as well as building instruction-following skills.
Have students lie down and then jump up when you yell “Fire on the Roof.” The last player to stand after each round is eliminated. For added fun, fool the students with phrases like “Fire on the Rhinoceros!” or “Fire on the Goof!” and eliminate anyone you fool.
Many people are trapped in the illusion that elementary students don’t need specific outdoor activities — you just let them free and watch them have fun. Wel… We hope now you know what it is far from reality. You need to guide them, come up with interesting games and activities because this will both educate them and prevent major fights and misunderstandings. At first, organizing elementary students may seem difficult, but with the tips above you will be able to handle it. Be fun, be sincere, be ready to take part in their games and change scenarios if kids get bored.