Nature & Outdoor Play

As children, my siblings and I played outside everyday mostly because we loved it and wanted to, but sometimes because our parents insisted that it was too nice a day not to! I know, I know…it was a different time. But sadly, have you ever noticed how few children you actually see playing outdoors anymore? I decided to poll my students and see what their thoughts were on the subject and then take a hard look at why we need to bring nature & outdoor play back and get children engaged on a regular basis!


  • Begin by asking students to take a Google Form Survey and then ask them the following questions: What do all of these things have in common and did you play more inside the house or outside the house as a child?
  • Look at the results to see what their engagement was with nature related outdoor activities. Were you or your students surprised by the results?
  • When you are driving along to wherever you are going or walking in your neighborhood, do you see young children outside playing? Discuss and share my own observations and the nagging question of why this is the norm…especially in our area where we are surrounded by farms and nature in a rural setting.



  • What does this mean for children? First have students complete the pre-viewing questions and then view the TEDx video, “How to Raise a Wild Child” and answer them while viewing questions (see attachments).
  • Discuss their responses and then have them complete the after viewing prompts.
  • To illustrate how fun and engaging nature and the outdoors can be, I have developed a nature based scavenger #fliphunt (what’s that?) for students to participate in as teams. If you do not wish to do this assignment using the Flipgrid app, and you are familiar with Goosechase, that could also be an option. You can always have students take a selfie or photos with someone in their group in the picture and have them insert them into a Google Slide. If no technology, assign this for homework and students do this in their own communities collecting as many objects as they can in a box or bag (you can adapt the list to fit your area). The object of the scavenger hunt is to get students engaged with nature and moving about as you show them how to make nature and outdoor play more fun!
  • Scoring of the scavenger hunt is optional. It could be for a grade based on point values you might want to assign, it could be on completion only or you could gamify it and make it a competition and the team with the most “finds and/or points” wins!
  • Finally, conclude by having students write a RAFT letter from a child to their parent(s) explaining the IMPORTANCE & NEED for nature based outdoor experiences. In the letter, students must suggest 10 easy and doable nature based activities that can be done in backyards, local surroundings or neighboring communities (keep within an hour’s drive). Example: In the video, Scott Sampson’s mother took him to a local pond to experience tadpoles first hand.


Photo by Alexander Dummer on Unsplash

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