Learning Is Everywhere
We’re learning outside!
Lots of fun ideas and activities for families!
Each month offers activities families can do together in a variety of settings. The activities within the Learning is Everywhere Calendar and on the website are aligned with the Pennsylvania Early Learning Standards (ELS).
These guidelines can be used to determine what infants, toddlers, pre-kindergarten, and kindergarten children may know or be able to do within specific age ranges.
The Pennsylvania Early Learning Standard is referenced after each activity.
Activities for Infants
- Introduce your baby to the outdoors as you welcome a new season. Allow her to touch different items outside and use different words to describe what she sees and hears. (“Hear the crinkle of the dried leaf?” or “Do you feel the wind blowing?”) If a child has a hard time grasping, assist them in the process or have other children work together with them. Touch the leave to her skin, crinkle the leaf in her hand or near her ear. Creative Thinking and Expression
- Outdoors is a great opportunity to introduce new vocabulary words through braille, sign language, or picture cards. Give your baby the words to explain what is can be observed through your senses. Compare what you observe to what the outside environment was like last month. For example, “Do you remember hot the sun felt a few weeks ago? Now it feels much cooler on my skin.”
- Help your baby notice the outside moving objects. Draw his attention to the leaves blowing in the
wind, the birds hopping from branch to branch, the children on their bicycles. Give him details for what he is seeing. (“Do you see that squirrel? He is hunting for acorns on the ground so he can eat. He is a hungry squirrel!”) Language and Literacy
Activities for Toddlers
- Exploring the great outdoors often can relax a child, stimulate their senses, and sometimes can even increase their concentration! Use this as an opportunity to increase vocabulary with picture cards, word card, braille or sign. Explain verbally or through sign what you are seeing as you go on your walk.
- Lay a rope on the ground and have your toddler follow or walk directly on it. Start off with it in a straight line and then move it to different shapes (zig-zag, circle, wiggly, etc.). With it in a straight line, ask him to show you how he can move across the rope if he were pretending to be an animal, such as a turtle or kangaroo. What other ways to cross the rope can he discover? Health, Wellness and Physical Development
- Go on a treasure hunt! Using a bucket, basket, or even a cup, explore the park, a walking trail, or the back yard and hunt for nature’s treasures, such as pine cones, acorns, sticks, small rocks, or leaves. As your toddler collects different items, help him identify the item and where it came from. Gather different items for him and place them in his hand or near him to grasp, describing the different textures. Scientific Thinking
- Play ball with your toddler. Stand across from him and kick the ball to him, then have him kick it back to you. Next, throw the ball, and then bounce it. What is his favorite way to pass the ball? How far can he pass it? How high can it go? Health, Wellness and Physical Development
Activities for Pre-Kindergarten
- Using items from outside, such as leaves, acorns, pine cones, or sticks, ask your preschooler to compare each against the other. Together, sort and discuss the items by asking (either via pictures, gestures, talking or signing) questions like, Which item is larger? Which is smaller? Where did it come from? How did it get to where he found it? Help her identify the different shapes and sizes of one item (such as several acorns). Scientific Thinking
- Assistive technology devices can aide in outdoor experiences. Taking pictures of the items you found so your child can sort and manipulate the pictures on their device. You can use your preschooler’s interests to get her involved in this experience by comparing the sizes and shapes of the items from nature with her favorite toys. Include the items from nature in her toys for a period of time to allow them time to explore and investigate it’s properties. This allows for open ended learning experiences that build creativity and confidence.
- Encourage your preschooler to use a magnifying glass to examine found outside objects. Ask her what she sees when she looks at
different objects using the magnifying glass. Does she see anything with the magnifying glass that she couldn’t see without it? How different do items look if she holds the magnifying glass close to it, or holds it far away? Scientific Thinking
Activities for Kindergarten
- With a piece of paper and a crayon, make rubbings of different textures outside. Have your kindergartner lay the paper across the item (such as the bark of a tree) and rub the crayon over the paper. Talk about what appears. Try another item, such as a leaf, and talk about the different textures each made on the paper. Compare the item with the rubbing–What part of the item can she see on the paper? Was one easier to do than the other? Why? Scientific Thinking
- Help your kindergartner draw a map of his favorite outdoor location. Show him a regular map (from a local telephone book or library) and explain that each location has a name, and provides a path (roads) for getting from one place to the next. Show him landmarks (airports, parks, hospitals, etc.) on the map and explain they are important places on a map. Accompany him around his favorite outdoor place and encourage him to draw paths and landmarks. For example, make a path from the landmark of the porch to the landmark of the swing. Add new words to his vocabulary by describing the sights, sounds and smells with picture cards, signing, or talking to your kindergartner. Creative Thinking and Expression
- Take advantage of the sun by creating shadow monsters! Ask your kindergartner to create different shadow shapes using her body and encourage her to watch what happens to her shadow when she moves. How does it change when she holds items in her hand (like a ball) or opens her jacket, or holds your hand? Can the two of you create your own special shadow monster together? Ask her about her shadow monster, such as what sounds the shadow monster makes, and what it might want to eat for breakfast. Encourage her to make smaller shadow monsters by using only her fingers. Approaches to Learning Through Play
When frightful isn’t delightful
‘Tis the season for ghosts, goblins and lots of scary things—especially for young children! Even if your family does not participate in Halloween activities, there may be no escaping the displays at stores, schools or activity centers. Here are some ideas to help you help your child to understand and cope with some of the scary sights of the season.
Talk about the difference between real and pretend. Point out things that may be real (a puppy in a book, for example) , then point out things that are pretend (a puppy that can talk like a person) Ask questions to help your child discover if something is real or pretend. “Can puppies really talk using words like you or I?” “How do puppies talk to us?” “What does it sound like when puppies talk (bark)?” “What does it sound like when you talk?”.
Young children may not be able to think through each new experience and decide what’s okay and what is scary. Reminding your child that something is pretend can help them to begin to learn the difference. Recognize that your child is afraid. Depending on the age of your child, it might be very easy, or very difficult to determine when your child is afraid. Signs like crying, shrinking from strangers, running away, hiding, or becoming clingy may mean your child is afraid.
Introduce one step at a time something that could be scary. This time of the year, Halloween can be scary for children! Explain that Halloween is a time when some people like to dress up in costumes and pretend. Next, show her some different masks or costumes. Start with a mask or costume that is not scary and let her touch it. Then, hold it close to your face and remove it so that she can see that you are still there. If she tolerates that well (and is not fearful), put it on your own face. Let her try it on if she wants. If she has difficulty moving from one step to the next, stop and consider trying again another time.
Don’t force something scary. If your child is scared, take a moment to comfort him using soothing words or physical contact. Remember, that even common signs that people are having fun (screaming in a “fun fright” for example) may be scary for a young child.
Once your child has been removed from something that made her afraid, talk about what was scary for her. Remind her about real and pretend, and let her know that it’s sometimes difficult to tell the difference. Understand that for her, the fear was very real. It may even be helpful to read a book about being afraid, and how a character in a book addressed their fear.
Understand that your child will outgrow most fears. Providing him with a safe and accepting environment to share and work through his fears as he grows will help overcome those fears.
Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert
Inside Mouse, Outside Mouse by Lindsay Barrett George
Bump! Thump! How do we jump? by Janice Lobb
Inside Outside Upside Down by Stan Berenstain
Outside Over There by Maurice Sendak
Are You Ready to Play Outside? by Mo Willems
Feathers for Lunch by Lois Ehlert
Goodnight World Outside by Frances Gilbert
Sam Who Never Forgets by Eve Rice
October Songs & Nursery Rhymes
We’re movin’ and groovin’ and dancin’ during October! Who doesn’t love a great song that’s catchy and makes you want to move your hands and feet and get active! We have just the song list for you and your child! Print the list of songs to find the words, and check with your local library for the tune!
Songs to celebrate being outside
A Hunting We Will Go
Come Little Leaves
Have You Ever Been Fishing?
Special Halloween themes songs
Ghost of Tom
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