Your guide to spring and summer outdoor learning

Posted on | Posted in Education

The benefits of outdoor learning  

The warmer months of spring and summer are the perfect times to start optimising outdoor learning within your school.  

As well as offering a fun and exciting way to learn, spring and summer outdoor learning activities for kids can work wonders for their development. Spending time outside helps stimulate the senses, promotes better physical health and helps children work on their social skills and confidence. One study even suggested that kids who spend more time outdoors experience fewer mental health problems as adults.      

So, we know that stepping outside of the classroom and into the great outdoors is a no-brainer. But what are the best activities to do? If you’re looking for spring and summer school activities that promote social-emotional learning in the UK, read on for our guide to boosting outdoor learning.

Outdoor spring and summer lesson plans  

Activities for learning about nature


Why not start a growing project? Gardening is an ideal activity for schoolchildren. It connects them with the natural world, introduces them to processes like photosynthesis and is a little messy, which kids tend to love!   

Even if you’re low on space, a window box or small planter can provide enough room for groups of children to get involved in prepping soil, planting seeds and watering. You could try growing tomatoes, herbs or peas, or any colourful spring or summertime flowers. 

Wildlife watching  

Birdwatching is a great way to introduce children to local wildlife. You could make a bird feeder or nest box to tempt birds to your school and create a handy checklist for children to tick off when they spot them.  

If wildlife is sparse around your school, you could watch for creepy crawlies instead – a great way to showcase to children the variety of different species that exist among us. Get crafty and have the class create a ‘bug hotel’ to attract insects, using things like old bricks, twigs and leaves.  

Activities that encourage creativity 


Taking art lessons outside is a wonderful way to spend an hour or two on a sunny day. Make the most of the different surroundings and have children paint a landscape picture or a specific leaf or stone they’ve found.  

Fancy getting even more creative? Have the children find a rock to transform into a different animal – ladybirds or bumblebees are simple yet charming options. Or use any leaves you find as stamps to create some abstract paintings.  


Chalks are another excellent arty option. Your playground offers the perfect blank canvas and there’s a load of different ways you can use chalks to get creative – the sky’s the limit! The best part is, it’s not permanent and washes away easily with water, or you can just wait for the rain to do the clean-up for you.  

Some chalk activities you could enjoy are collaborating on a class artwork where everyone gets to contribute creatively, creating simple games like hopscotch or noughts and crosses, or practising handwriting and spelling.   

Nature prints and sculptures

Let children’s creativity bloom by using items from nature to make prints and sculptures. Collect flat items like leaves, ferns and flowers that can be used for simple printmaking with kid-friendly paints or ink pads. Or gather twigs, pinecones, pebbles and other objects to build mini sculptures.

Activities that encourage physical fitness

Kids generally have a whole lot of energy, especially when cooped up indoors, so getting them outside to burn some of it off is often very welcome in spring and summer! There are plenty of spring and summer school activities that encourage physical fitness, so take your PE lessons outdoors and let your class get some fresh air in alongside their exercise.    

There’s a wealth of games that you could play depending on the equipment you have. Anything that involves a lot of running around tends to be popular among younger kids, like ball games or tag. You could also get everyone involved in a game of skipping, tug of war or hula hooping. 

Outdoor obstacle courses and circuits are also brilliant for getting children moving in an engaging way. Set up a series of activities like jumping over objects, crawling under ropes, dribbling a ball around cones and completing other simple challenges that get them moving. You can make it competitive by timing them or just let them race themselves to improve their personal speed.

Activities that teach financial literacy 

Increasingly, schools in the UK are looking for activities that help teach financial literacy. Luckily, there are plenty that are perfect for outdoor learning in spring and summer! These games are great for teaching children about the value of money and offer a fun and engaging way to learn about a concept that may initially appear dull to kids.

One option is to play “supermarket”. You can set up a pretend supermarket outdoors filled with different priced items. Children can then be given a specific amount of play money before making choices on what to purchase while remaining in budget. This helps children learn the value of making informed decisions based on available funds.

Some more simple ideas for spring and summer school activities that teach financial literacy include:

  •  A coin sorting challenge. Give children a pile of mixed coins and ask them to sort them as quickly as possible by denomination. This is a great way to familiarise kids with different coin values.
  • Money memory game. Create some pairs of cards featuring different amounts of money (e.g. 50p, £1, £10) and scatter them face down on the ground. Then get the children to take turns turning over two cards at a time and trying to match pairs. This game increases children’s memory skills whilst also further familiarising them with different denominations of money.
  • Price guessing game. Either gather some toys or create colourful print outs that feature different items, like a car, a house, a loaf of bread, and a bottle of shampoo. Then, have children guess the prices of each and give out points for how close the guesses are. This teaches children about the cost of goods and why some items are more expensive than others.

Taking learning beyond the classroom

While the outdoor activities above are fun ways to get children engaged with nature, there’s no reason you can’t take entire academic lessons outdoors too! Many subjects can be taught in an outdoor setting with just a few simple adaptations.

For subjects like science, being surrounded by nature provides the perfect environment. Children can observe plants and wildlife up close, learn about environmental factors and carry out hands-on experiments and investigations using natural materials. It’s interactive and fun learning in a way that usually isn’t possible inside the classroom.

Reading, writing and language lessons can also become more immersive when you move outdoors. From finding writing inspiration in the school’s surroundings to reading aloud in the fresh air, being outdoors creates a more engaging and imaginative atmosphere.

Even core subjects like maths can be made more exciting for children by incorporating the natural world. You could use sticks for counting and patterning or different sized rocks for comparing sizes – the options are endless.

Plus, simply being exposed to fresh air, natural light and having room to move around more freely has been shown to improve children’s concentration, mood, behaviour and overall wellbeing compared to being stuck inside all day.

Creating the perfect outdoor classroom with a canopy

One of the biggest hurdles for schools wanting to take learning outdoors more is unpredictable weather. A high-quality canopy solves this issue by providing year-round protection from rain, wind and harmful UV rays so you can make the most of your outdoor space no matter the weather.

At Canopies UK, we offer a wide range of canopies specifically designed to meet the needs of schools and nurseries that want to create sheltered outdoor learning and play spaces. These dedicated outdoor classroom areas create an engaging environment that facilitates hands-on learning and interactions with nature, offering a welcome change of scenery that can breathe a whole new life into your lessons!

We hope we’ve given you some great ideas for spring and summer outdoor learning in schools.  

Incorporating outdoor play in schools has a whole host of benefits, so why not find out more about our outdoor classrooms and canopies for schools? Or contact us on 01254 777 002 or