A Guide to Outdoor Learning

A Guide to Outdoor Learning

What is outdoor learning?

The simple definition of outdoor learning can be explained as the process of learning through experience in an outdoor environment. Outdoor learning can also be known as outdoor education. Which is more of a broad term used to describe several different activities that take place in mostly outdoor surroundings.

Outdoor Learning Activities and Ideas

Several different activities can be utilised in outdoor environments. Some of our favourites include:

  • Exploring the wildlife and plants that live in the local park or schoolyard/field
  • Staying at a residential outdoor centre – such as Derwent Hill
  • Working as a team to build a raft and paddle across a lake (secondary school)
  • Creating a “critter” using modelling materials
  • Crime scene creative writing – creating a crime scene and using it as a basis for literacy work
  • Building a basic shelter using materials in a natural environment- to improve teamwork and communication

Further reading: Check out Learning through Landscapes fantastic Outdoor lesson ideas resource page

Is outdoor learning effective?

Is outdoor learning effective? Yes! It has been proven that learning in the outdoors is a great way to develop inquisitive thinking, problem-solving, personal and social skills and teamwork in real-life situations. By allowing young people to learn outdoors, we are teaching them that learning isn’t confined to the classroom and is, in fact, an on-going thing that takes place throughout the entirety of their lives.

“…the more risks you allow children to take, the better they learn to take care of themselves.”

Roald Dahl

Benefits of outdoor learning

There’s no question that outdoor learning is effective. We briefly touched on a few of the benefits of learning outside above. Such as allowing children to develop personal and social development skills, as well as developing problem-solving skills. However, what other benefits can outdoor learning provide? Check out our top 5 benefits below:

  • Outdoor activities can provide positive physical and mental health benefits and assist fine motor development
  • Provide opportunities for children to work collaboratively and improve their communication
  • Allow children to be able to identify hazards and risks outside the classroom and on school grounds
  • Help expand the school curriculum and make children aware of how we can maintain and look after our environment
  • Teaches children to become more resilient as we tend to wrap our children in cotton wool. Allowing learning outdoors will provide more opportunities for children to experience more challenges and demonstrate that giving up is not always the best option.


“The next generation is tomorrow’s workforce. Helping young people to experience and handle risk is part of preparing them for adult life and the world of work. Young people can gain this experience from participating in challenging and exciting outdoor events made possible by organisations prepared to adopt a common sense and proportionate approach that balances benefits and risk. I support this publication for the encouragement that it gives to everyone to adopt such an approach”

Judith Hackitt CBE, Chair, Health and Safety Executive

Why is outdoor play important in early years?

Unfortunately, it seems that young people are taking part in more and more sedentary indoor activities, such as playing video games, watching tv and generally being inactive as a whole. However, children in their early years are incredibly inquisitive and are at a crucial point in their lives, in the sense that they are learning about their surroundings and environment and the risks and hazards associated with them. By not allowing children to have experiences outside, we are hindering their personal and social development. Which may harm them later in their lives.

Further reading: Benefits of Early Years of Learning Outside the Classroom

Is outdoor learning safe?

There will always be risks when it comes to outdoor learning. Children will be taking part in many different activities and experiences. Each presenting their risks and hazards. However, with the proper supervision and teaching, the benefits of learning outdoors will far outweigh the risks associated with it.

It is incredibly important that children and young  people are presented with opportunities that will aid their personal and social development and taking risks where appropriate.

How can MIKO help?

We understand that not every school will have an environment in which they can carry out outdoor learning safely and effectively. However, it is becoming incredibly common for schools to require outdoor teaching areas and playground shelters. They can provide the perfect environment to help younger people develop their skills and learn through new experiences.

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