After-School Outdoor Learning Games for Kidsby Tiffany Silverberg
After spending all day in school and over the books, children are itching to run, play and explore. Whenever the weather permits, let the students in your after-school program play games outside. The kids can learn a variety of important lessons, from academics to social skills, while burning off excess energy that has been building all day.
Get 'Em Moving
Children don't often get as much exercise as they need. At your after school-facility, children have the chance to move around, work out and eventually exhaust themselves. Don't let them sit around. This is probably what they would be doing at home anyway. You are the one who can keep them healthy during this after-school time.
If you are working with a wide range of children, you will likely deal with meltdowns and cries of boredom at different frequencies. You can break kids into age groups, to give younger ones more variety and to challenge the older ones with tougher activities. If you want to play a game all together, such as tag or tug of war, set a time limit and allow a break after 10 or 20 minutes.
After-school programs have the privilege of reinforcing academic lessons without the structure of a regular school environment. Help kids with their math and reading skills through large group games. Work on spelling skills by calling out a word and asking children to spell it out. Children can work as a team to mold themselves into each letter of the word. Math skills can be taught in the same way. You can call out a number or a simple equation. The other option would be to set up colored circles around the room. Call out a number or equation and a color. That number of children will have to run to that colored square.
Academic lessons aren't the only lessons children can learn outdoors. Enforce good social skills by teaching team-building games. Give kids word puzzles or riddles that they have to solve together. This may include working together to walk over a log or build a small structure.
Remind children of good safety practices through your outdoor games. Make sure everyone is dressed properly with tennis or other covered shoes. Apply sunscreen even when the sun isn't shining to reinforce proper skin care. Teach children how to take a break, especially in the heat, and rehydrate to stay healthy when they are active.
- games in nature image by .shock from Fotolia.com