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The benefits of outdoor play

It is well known that art and craft activities aid development in early years, improving fine motor skills, communication, and coordination; as well as boosting children’s creativity. So why confine these pastimes to the traditional classroom setting? Instead, take your lessons outdoors and make the most of nature’s blank canvas.

Nursery and primary school aged children learn through their senses, and the great outdoors provides plenty of opportunities to explore. Here we look at why alfresco art activities are beneficial for development and learning in early years.

Limitless learning
Firstly, introducing education into a less structured, open environment supports a different experience that stimulates creativity. You will also find that the outdoors can have a calming effect on students and they are more likely to invent games and express themselves, as it doesn’t have the same rules and restraints as a classroom environment. This type of mind-set is ideal for nurturing creativity in your students.

Make the most of natural materials
Utilising outdoor spaces provides a number of benefits including natural materials and opportunities to engage in messier, more experimental crafts. The great outdoors provide rich stimulus and opportunities for enquiry, critical thinking and reflection from pupils.

So, just as you would have a craft corner within the classroom filled with art supplies, try dedicating a space for craft activities outdoors too. As well as everyday resources, such as pens, paper and paint, incorporate natural resources found outside such as leaves, petals, pinecones and pebbles. These can enhance children’s sensory learning and get them hands-on with more unconventional materials.

Group work in the great outdoors
Finally, the biggest bonus of alfresco art is the opportunity to create collaborative class projects. Outside, students can work together to create larger group pieces that are not easily achievable indoors. This type of activity also encourages social skills, with pupils having to work together.