“Take It Outdoors” Activities
This fall, outdoor activities in both the Preschool and Prekindergarten programs will include a new component called “Take It Outdoors.” In both programs, children will participate in two fun and active games and activities each day – a “Take It Outdoors: Get Thinking” activity and a “Take It Outdoors: Get Moving” activity. Both activities are related to the curricula and unit themes. Below are examples of three activities similar to those found in both the Preschool and Prekindergarten programs.
Draw Alphabet Letters with Sidewalk Chalk (Get Thinking)
What You’ll Need
- Find a flat outdoor area suitable for writing on.
- Invite your child to draw alphabet letters with sidewalk chalk. Begin by having your child draw letters he or she is familiar with. If your child struggles to recall how to form certain letters, draw the letters first, and then invite your child to copy the letters you have drawn.
- After your child has drawn a letter, ask him or her about the sound of letter, for example, “What sounds does the letter B make?” Then invite your child to look around the area for things that begin with the /b/ sound. Ask, “What do you see that begins with the letter B?” Reinforce the letter sound, for example, “Yes, basketball begins with the letter B. B for /b/, /b/ basketball. What else do you see that starts with the letter B and makes the /b/ sound?”
For young children, movement and learning are closely related. In this activity, letter-recognition skills are reinforced through whole-body movements as children use sidewalk chalk to write large letter B’s on a flat surface outdoors.
Move Along Chalk Alphabet Letters (Get Moving)
What You’ll Need
- Sidewalk chalk
- Beanbag (optional)
- After your child has drawn several letters with sidewalk chalk outdoors, invite him or her to move along the letters in different ways. Try to have your child move in ways that are associated with the alphabet letter, such as hopping on letter H’s, skipping on letter S’s, jumping on letter J’s, and tiptoeing on letter T’s.
- For an additional challenge, have your child try to balance a beanbag on different parts of his or her body while walking on the letters, for example, on his or her head or on an arm.
As your child moves along alphabet letters in different ways, he or she is practicing the large- muscle skills important to his or her physical growth and development. Although the sequence of development in children seldom varies, the rate at which children develop and master physical skills, such as skipping and tiptoeing, varies.
Nature Walk (Get Thinking and Get Moving)
What You’ll Need
- Something to carry found items in, such as a paper bag or small backpack
- Take a nature walk with your child. Encourage your child to use his or her senses to make observations about the natural world. What sounds does your child hear? What smells does he or she smell? What is the temperature like? What animals and birds does your child see or hear? Consider collecting a few items to examine more closely with a magnifying glass after the walk, such as leaves, flowers, twigs, stones, and soil samples.
- Take the same walk during each season of the year. Ask your child about the changes he or she notices during each season. For example, what does your child notice about the leaves on the trees during the fall? What about during the winter and spring? How are the leaves different during the summertime?
The natural world offers children more than beautiful places to play and explore. Research has shown that children need connections with the natural world as a regular part of their healthy growth and development. For more information on children and nature, see Richard Louv’s eloquent and thought-provoking book, Last Child in the Woods.