Yes! In many ways the goals of what we want children to learn in the outdoors are the same as indoors. The Adventurous Child would like to see children develop socially, emotionally, cognitively, physically, etc. in outdoor settings where there is nature and movement all around.
One important area of the preschool curriculum is providing social experiences which create cooperation and parallel play. Having quiet gathering areas like a willow hut, a playhouse, or a store front puts children in situations where they interact with each other. These learning centers really come alive with the buzzing of busy children when manipulatives are provided. The playhouse can have dress up clothes for social and dramatic play. Fake money to buy and sell things also provides manipulatives. A willow hut can have pots and pans for cooking a group’s favorite mud stew with meat sticks. Bits of grass can be used for anything.
When choosing manipulatives to create social interaction, pick items that help you meet your state’s Early Learning Standards. If you want to know more about something specific please feel free to comment or to contact me.