Spring into outdoor activities

by Brittany Gilbert

By the time spring rolls around, parents and kids are both ready to get outside. It doesn’t have to take a lot of planning or be difficult to get your kids outside. These activities aren’t just for fun but can also be used as lessons.

Nature walk

Get some exercise and Vitamin D while teaching your kids about their senses. While on a walk, ask your child simple questions such as, “What do you see, smell, hear, feel?” When you return from your walk, designate a corner on a sheet of paper for each question and write or illustrate their answers in each space. You could even collect leaves, pine cones or other memorabilia from your nature walk. The things you collect can be used as decorations, put in a scrapbook or shadowbox or glued to artwork.

Mud paint

If your kids are like mine, this activity is right up their alley. Most kids love an excuse to play with mud, and this activity is not just fun but also sensory.

Mix together some mud, water and paint (powdered tempura, liquid watercolor paint or food coloring). One recipe even included Dawn soap to help avoid stains. Add the paintbrushes and heavy cardstock and let them have a good time. You can anticipate a mess and have art smocks and other supplies ready.

Sidewalk chalk

Never underestimate the power of sidewalk chalk. It’s almost too simple to learn while coloring on concrete. Your child can learn both gross and fine motor skills without realizing it. Practice numbers and get some exercise while playing hopscotch. Depending on the age of your children, you can practice simple math, fractions and sentence structures.

One simple game we play with our son is called Shape Jump. I draw different shapes on the concrete and when I call out a shape, he jumps on it. It can be difficult for a student to sit at a desk and focus, so why not take the learning outside and add physical activity to it? When practicing counting by five, put the numbers in boxes and have them jump to the answer. Sidewalk chalk can be a fun way to practice for a quiz or a great way to introduce a new lesson.

Another idea can help with phonics and can be modified for age and skill level. It only takes a few minutes to write the alphabet and/or common letter blends on the concrete with chalk. Then have your child either throw a beanbag or slide a hockey puck on to the “board” and whatever letter or blend they hit, they will then sound out the letter or blend. You can adjust this game to fit your child’s needs, but it is a great way to take learning outside.


Brittany Gilbert is a former FACS teacher at Maumelle High School. She and her husband, Levi, have two sons and live in Conway. Brittany can be reached at [email protected].