We know firsthand the importance of play in a child’s development. Not only do children learn important skills like problem-solving and critical thinking, but play promotes creativity and imagination. One way to improve outdoor learning is through game-based play.
Using games to facilitate learning taps into children’s natural curiosity — and their unceasing desire to have fun. Game-based learning has been shown to increase engagement, motivation, and knowledge retention, and allows children to explore concepts and ideas in a non-intimidating way.
Why Game-based Learning Works
A few examples of what children may gain from games in early education include:
- Engagement: Games are designed to be fun and entertaining, which means children are more likely to engage with the content. This engagement leads to increased motivation and excitement for learning.
- Active learning: Games require active participation, meaning that children are not just passive listeners but actively involved in the learning process. This type of learning can lead to a deeper understanding of the content.
- Collaboration: Many games involve teamwork and collaboration, which teaches children how to work together and communicate effectively with peers.
- Immediate feedback: Games provide immediate feedback, allowing children to learn from their mistakes and adjust their strategies accordingly. In traditional learning methods, feedback may come much later.
- Personalized learning: Games can meet the needs of individual children, providing a personalized learning experience that caters to their strengths and weaknesses.
Game-Based Play Activities
There are a variety of game-based play activities that are ideal for outdoor classroom settings. Here are a few examples:
- Treasure Hunt – Simple but effective, treasure hunts involve hiding clues around the outdoor space and having children work in teams to find them. Children are encouraged to use problem-solving and teamwork skills to locate the clues and ultimately, the treasure.
- Outdoor Board Games – Playing board games on outdoor classroom tables promotes communication, negotiation and cognitive skills, while also allowing the children to enjoy the fresh air and sunlight. Alternatively, giant versions of classic board games, such as chess or checkers, can be created for the outdoor setting. This not only provides an opportunity to practice strategy and critical thinking but also gets children moving and active.
- Science Olympics – This activity involves setting up a series of science-related challenges that children must complete to earn points. Challenges can include measuring, mixing and observing natural materials in an outdoor kitchen sink, hunting for small clues under a magnifier, or building sundials. These activities encourage creativity and scientific exploration.
Game-based play is an effective way to promote learning in outdoor classroom settings. A fun and engaging environment empowers children to explore and discover concepts in a way that is meaningful to them. It is our mission as a company to provide products that encourage outdoor learning, and through game-based play we hope to inspire a love of learning and promote healthy, active lifestyles for children.