Outdoor Activities that Enhance Child Development in Nurseries

When it comes to personal and educational development, we recognise that nursery is just one aspect of a child’s life and routine.

Published on December 22, 2023

At this age, surrounded by new experiences and stimulating environments, children’s development is enriched and framed by a multitude of different things, with every child responding in a unique way to new things, emotions, and places. 

Spending time outside is a crucial part of being a child - with many of our favourite memories spanning time spent in the great outdoors! Not only is spending time outside fun (and incredibly messy), but it allows children to discover the things that make them curious about the natural world while embedding various lessons from within the walls of the nursery into a real-world setting.

Here at My Ohana, outdoor activities are more than just an example of playtime for the children in our care. Spending time outside forms an intrinsic part of the nursery routine, encouraging children to explore the mental and physical benefits of the great outdoors.

Here are some of the activities that we regularly integrate into the nursery routine – and yes, we do always recommend that your child brings a change of clothes and wet weather gear when outside play is on the agenda!

Outdoor activities that we use to promote development

Spending time outside is a good way to introduce children to the great outdoors, inspiring an active lifestyle while encouraging an interest in nature.

Some of the most popular experiences that we adopt and encourage across our nurseries include:

  • Bird feeders, not just hanging and filling the feeders themselves but tracking which birds use them, and understanding the annual cycle of birds and where they build their nests.

  • Creating bug hotels, as a way of understanding all manner of different habitats for different bugs and insects. Again, this is something that can be monitored as a way of learning more about these creatures.

  • Rainy day activities. At My Ohana, we are big believers in getting out and about come rain or shine, activating the proper risk assessments and ensuring that all children are sufficiently wrapped up to keep them safe and warm whatever the weather. Some of the popular rainy-day activities include catching rainfall, splashing in puddles, and wandering throughout different environments to see what impact rainfall has on the ground.

  • Grow vegetables and other plants. This is one of the most immersive experiences that we do at nursery, promoting development with regards to caring for something and understanding what it needs to thrive, while also getting to grips with the different seasons and how they affect growing conditions.

  • Sand and water tables, and mud kitchens. These messy, hands-on activities are all about finding the fun side in nature and the great outdoors, discovering what happens when you add water to sand when you compact sand into different shapes, and when you mix mud with other things.

Depending on the local environment and the availability of different habitats and outside spaces, each of our nurseries offers different experiences to children. Get in touch with your local nursery to discover how they promote outside play.

Why outside play and activities are so beneficial to child development

It all comes down to that healthy sense of curiosity that we strive to ignite in each and every child. Nursery is a time of their life which is filled with so many new and exciting experiences, with outdoor activities allowing us to connect children with a world beyond the walls of a nursery.

We believe that when young children are exposed to nature, wildlife, and environmental activities early on in life, amid the company of their friends and peers, they develop skills which facilitate a deeper appreciation of the complex ecosystems, habitats, and environments that they see every day but otherwise may not fully understand.

In addition, spending time outside fosters independence and critical thinking, inspires children to be active and promotes a basic understanding of wellness and fresh air as being integral to mental and physical health.

And let’s be honest, playing outside can be messy. And is there anything that children love more than making a mess? In our experience, no - mess will always come out on top! 

Parents who choose My Ohana often find that their children return home at the end of the nursery day with new stories and experiences – built on the foundation of our child-led ethos and our rich curriculum which combines education and learning with immersive play. Spending time outside is just as much a developmental tool of its own, as it is a chance to play and enjoy fresh air.

For more information on the My Ohana structure and how we support children’s development and sense of play, get in touch with your local nursery.


We’ve been shortlisted for ‘Nursery Group Under 10 Settings’ in the National Day Nursery Awards 2022

Registered Company No: 2841130