Learning doesn’t have to take place behind a classroom door. There are plenty of learning opportunities in everyday life, especially outdoors! Take a look at these fun, educational uses for outdoor toys, and have some fun in the sun while you’re at it!
Repurpose Colored Chalk
Sidewalk chalk is one of the most entertaining outdoor toys for children, especially budding young artists! With a little creative thinking, you can use that chalk for educational purposes, too.
Draw a giant bullseye with numerical points on your driveway or sidewalk. Use water balloons, beanbags, or small stones for a toss-and-play game, but keep score! Adding up those points means practicing simple math skills. Want to make it even more challenging? Subtract points if items are thrown outside the target area. Then you’re incorporating both addition and subtraction. Crayola makes sidewalk chalk in a variety of sizes, colors, and shapes. You can read about more creative uses for colored chalk here.
Practice Math with Outdoor Shuffle Toss
Another fun way to practice math skills is to use an outdoor game that keeps you moving and encourages you to keep score. Games like corn hole or archery promote active movement and scorekeeping; plus, they’re fun!
Wicked Big Sports creates outdoor sets in extra large sizes, which keeps kids (and adults) engaged. Their Shuffle Toss set can even be folded up and carried for easier transportation. Designate someone as a scorekeeper and then take turns so everyone gets some math practice in. Want to make it more challenging? Double or triple the point amounts!
Estimate with Bubbles
You might not think blowing bubbles could be educational, but anything can be a learning experience if you try! Grab a stopwatch and see how many bubbles your child can blow in 30 seconds, one minute, two minutes, etc. You can even hold a “bubble race” to see how many bubbles you can make in a designated time period. For even more fun, make GIANT bubbles with Big-A-Bubble by Zing. Estimate how big you can make the bubble or how long it can stay a bubble before it pops! Check out the Toy Insider’s roundup of bubble toys here.
Conduct Probability Experiments with Water Balloons
How far can you throw a water balloon? Do you think it will sink or float? How big can you make a water balloon before it pops? How heavy do you think a water balloon is? There are so many scientific and probability questions related to water balloons that you can explore. Who knew they could be one of the best learning tools of the summer? Zuru’s Bunch O Balloons make things even easier — you can fill up to 100 balloons in only a minute, and you don’t even have to tie them!
Build Life Skills with Pretend Play
Pretend play is another important educational experience for children, and it’s even more fun outdoors! Have your child set up a pretend ice cream truck, lemonade stand, or food cart. You can use plastic toys or real foods to encourage realistic play. They can learn how to practice important life skills by pretending to manage a store and serve customers. If you have a busy neighborhood, you can even set up a real lemonade stand or another of your choosing. Pretend play often gets overlooked as a form of education, but it’s actually one of the best ways to promote everyday learning.
Exploring Through Science and Nature
Bug lovers and nature fans will appreciate the fun toys from Educational Insights. The entire GeoSafari line encourages kids to explore nature and learn about the outdoors. Plan a nature walk, collect items, observe findings, and then record them in a small journal — the educational opportunities are endless! You can even help your child make a nature shadowbox including all of the fun things they’ve discovered! InsectLore has some wonderful kits that teach children about the life cycle of a butterfly.
It’s easy to put an educational twist on any outdoor toy with a little creativity. Encourage your kids to get outside this summer and not only enjoy the sunshine, but enjoy learning, too!