We’re Outside!

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.

Print the book list! 9 Books for Going Outside.

  • 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


Introduce your baby to the outdoors as you welcome a new season. Allow them to touch different items outside and use different words to describe what they see and hear. (“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 the skin, crinkle the leaf in the hand or near the 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 the senses. Compare what is observed 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.” Language and Literacy

Help your baby notice the outside moving objects. Draw their attention to the leaves blowing in the wind, the birds hopping from branch to branch, the children on their bicycles. Give them details for what is being seen.  (“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

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 is being seen during a walk. Language and Literacy

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 them to show how to move across the rope if they were pretending to be an animal, such as a turtle or kangaroo. What other ways to cross the rope can they 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 them identify the item and where it came from. Gather different items  and place them in their hand or near them to grasp, describing the different textures.  Scientific Thinking

Play ball with your toddler. Stand across from them and kick the ball, then have them kick it back to you. Next, throw the ball, and then bounce it. What is their favorite way to pass the ball?  How far can they pass it? How high can it go?  Health, Wellness and Physical Development

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 it was found? Help them 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 found items so your child can sort and manipulate the pictures on their device. Use your preschooler’s interests to get them involved in this experience by comparing the sizes and shapes of the items from nature with favorite toys. Include items from nature in 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. Scientific Thinking

Encourage your preschooler to use a magnifying glass to examine found outside objects. Ask what they see when they look at different objects using the magnifying glass. Do they see anything with the magnifying glass that they couldn’t see without it? How different do items look if they hold the magnifying glass close to it, or holds it far away?  Scientific Thinking

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 be seen on the paper? Was one easier to do than the other? Why?  Scientific Thinking

Help your kindergartner draw a map of a favorite outdoor location. Show them 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 landmarks (airports, parks, hospitals, etc.) on the map and explain they are important places on a map. Accompany them around a favorite outdoor place and encourage them 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 their 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 their body and encourage them to watch what happens to the shadow when they move. How does it change when they hold items in their hand (like a ball) or opens a jacket, or holds your hand? Can the two of you create your own special shadow monster together? Ask them about the shadow monster, such as what sounds the shadow monster makes, and what it might want to eat for breakfast. Encourage them to make smaller shadow monsters by using only their fingers.  Approaches to Learning Through Play

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