The best ideas for outdoor learning

Posted on | Posted in Education

At Canopies UK, we’ve always sung the praises of outdoor learning and play. From team-building games to arts and crafts that encourage children to tap into their creative sides, the benefits of spending time outside at school are countless.   

Amongst other things, outdoor learning activities are proven to help improve children’s: 

  • Language and communication skills  
  • Motivation  
  • Confidence  
  • Concentration 
  • Creativity  

In light of this, we wanted to gather the best resources for school outdoor lesson plans and outdoor play activities for teachers. We’ve searched the web to find some of the best resources available, and listed them all in one handy place below. 

So, whether you’re looking for your next outdoor lesson plan or just want to be inspired by the possibilities, read on to discover some of the best ideas and resources for outdoor learning.  

Outdoor learning activity ideas  

Canopies UK  

We have some fantastic resources and outdoor learning activity ideas right here at Canopies UK. If you’d like to read some inspiring ideas, head to our ‘education’ blog category for all things school-related. Some outdoor learning ideas blogs that might be helpful to you when it comes to lesson planning for outdoors include: 

Downloadable resources  

You can also visit our education resources page to download a range of useful resources for free. We’ve covered everything from guides and information packs to ebooks and brochures, all created to help you make the most out of your school’s outdoor space.  

Woodland Trust  

Woodland Trust offers a wealth of free resources on its website, designed to help teachers deliver engaging and memorable outdoor learning. Their online learning hub – Tree Tools for Schools – includes everything schools need to plan, plant and care for trees, as well as plenty of inspiration for taking learning outside.  

Woodland Trust has also created a handy outdoor learning pack, aimed at primary school teachers in Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and Wales. The comprehensive pack covers everything from the reasons outdoor learning is great to practical ideas – and offers some great additional links to further guidance too.  

Outdoor Classroom Day  

child playing with sand

Outdoor Classroom Day is a global movement that aims to inspire and celebrate outdoor play and learning, both at school and at home. On the day itself, which has two dates each year, teachers are encouraged to celebrate with a special day outdoors for their class.  

To encourage teachers and parents alike to make outdoor learning and play part of every day, the website has a fantastic free resources page filled with outdoor lesson ideas, play ideas, and guidance. From an endangered species pack aimed at helping children to get outside and take action to a recycled planters lesson idea, there’s sure to be something here to help you plan your next outdoor lesson.  

Early Years Resources  

The clue’s in the name: Early Years Resources is a must-visit for teachers looking for resources and products to assist with their outdoor learning activities. The website has a huge product range, so if you’re looking for equipment to encourage outdoor play, you’re in the right place. From den-making kits to outdoor “mud” kitchens, there’s everything here for creating an inspiring outdoor space that kids will love.  

That’s not all. There’s also a free downloads page filled with downloadable resources that you can use as part of your lesson plans. The ‘natural world’ section is a perfect starting point – we think kids will be huge fans of the seasonal scavenger hunts. 

Primary Resources  

child playing football

Primary Resources gathers free lesson plans, activity ideas and resources for primary teachers. It’s not just dedicated to outdoor learning – you’ll find plans for every kind of lesson imaginable here. We like the geography section, where you’ll see some great ideas for school research trips, as well as the PE section, which has some fantastic guides for games and physical activities.  

The website isn’t the most modern and can require a little bit of digging around to find what you need, but the sheer amount of resources and downloads available is really impressive – and it’s all completely free to use.  


child playing on swing

Twinkl is a fabulous resource for teachers, designed to save you time when it comes to planning lessons. On the website, there are hundreds of thousands of resources to download, with new ones added each day. All resources are created and approved by experienced teachers, each an expert in their field, so you know you’re getting top quality.  

You need a membership to access Twinkl’s materials, which currently start from £5.29 a month. For many teachers, this is a small price to pay for the time and effort saved, as well as the reassurance that all the materials are created to be completely in line with the National Curriculum.  

We hope that you were inspired by these outdoor learning activity ideas, and that you’ve found a new favourite website or two to help with your lesson plans!  

At Canopies UK, we have a range of canopies for schools designed to encourage outdoor learning and play, whatever the weather. If your school could benefit from the addition of a canopy, get in touch with our friendly team to talk through your options.