Incorporate cross-curricular learning outdoors

cross curricular learning outdoors- children learning about nature

Incorporate cross-curricular learning outdoors

Outdoor learning is vital for children as it develops many skills as well as gives them important vitamin D. Plus, children get a break from their normal routine in the classroom. It is best to ensure that all key subjects are extensively covered outdoors so that pupils can learn everything about these subjects in a different and fun way.

To help you with this, we have sourced some amazing activities to enable you to incorporate cross-curricular learning outdoors.


Maths activities

There are plenty of various maths activities you can do with your class outdoors. Take a look at our suggestions and try them out to start out cross-curricular learning outside.


Symmetrical patterns

Task children with searching for different outdoor items such as tree stumps, leaves and pinecones. Ask them to look out for symmetrical patterns and help them with this by talking through symmetry first. Encourage them to discuss what they think and then take a picture to print later. Provide pupils with a mirror so they can check their theories.


Number lines

In small groups, challenge pupils to draw out number lines on the ground using chalk. Make sure to adjust the numbers depending on the age of your class. Pass each group some stones or counters and assign them different equations to solve using the number line. They can use the stones or counters as a guide on their line.

You could make this activity more fun by turning it into a little competition to see which team gets the most right. Offer small prizes such as stickers, medals or small sweets.


Make a meter

Allow pupils to explore the outdoors through collecting various items such as rocks, sticks and pinecones. Once all items are gathered, task them with making a meter that measures a metre in length. When children think they have created a metre long meter, tell them to shout stop. Then you can check their estimation using a measuring tape.

You could turn this into a competition by splitting your class into small groups to compete with each other. Time them on who is quickest and base the winner on the fastest and most close to a metre.


Sort & order items

Go on an outdoor item scavenger hunt and collect anything that can be found. Children can choose leaves, flowers, sticks or even pebbles. With these items, pupils can practice data handling through sorting and ordering them. For example, children can group flowers by type and colour or pebbles by shape and size.


cross curricular learning outdoors- children learning phonics

English activities

Head outside to make fun and engaging English lessons. We have sourced some amazing English activities that can be transferred outside of the classroom.


Sound & word

Take a break from the classroom and take an English lesson into the playground. Draw a series of circles and label each one with a different sound. Shout out a word and ask your class to throw a bean bag into the circle that reflects the sound that word begins or ends with. Make sure to have a list of words you can use and challenge children with. Choose a few easy words and then make them progressively harder for them.


Story writing

Give your class a prompt for them to create their own story with. Choose a prompt that relates to nature and ask them to sit outside and write whatever they think of. Being outdoors while writing can give children plenty of inspiration for stories they can tell. You could even encourage them to create a storyboard in the playground for it first.


Phonics sounds

Gather a few ping pong balls and write some phonics sounds on each one. Set up a water tray by using a box and place onto a table in the playground. Add water and throw the ping pong balls into it. Task your pupils with finding certain sounds by fishing for them using a net.

You could do this activity by shouting a word out and children have to find the corresponding sound that makes the word. Or you could let them fish freely and then when they get a sound ask them what words can be made from it.


Word based hopscotch

Use chalk in the playground to draw out a hopscotch map. Instead of using numbers in each square, use words from the same family instead. For example, cat, bat, mat, sat etc. Ask your class to hop across the course and read the word out loud. Doing this makes them familiar with family words and they can gain an understanding of their meaning. For older pupils, use more advanced family words.


Incorporate cross curricular outdoors- children playing with parachute science

Science activities

Take experiments into the playground or local park for pupils to enjoy science lessons. Try some of these fun activities perfect to incorporate cross-curricular learning outdoors!


Build a water bottle rocket

Teach pupils all about the most fundamental laws of physics by allowing them to get crafty. Reusing everyday items such as a water bottle and card, task children with making a rocket. They can do individual ones or small group rockets to have plenty of time to experiment with. Build pressure inside the water bottles and then release and watch them fly into the air.


Make a parachute

Gather different materials such as cloth, plastic or paper and see which one of them can float for the longest. Once you and your class have determined which is best use this material to make a parachute together. Whilst making the parachute, teach pupils all about air resistance and gravity then test it outside.


What floats & what doesn’t?

Fill a large container or water table with water and place it out in the playground. Task children with creating small boats out of various materials. Guide them on what materials to use so there is a variation. These materials can be paper, sponge, foil, lollipop sticks etc. When all of the boats are made head outdoors and discover what materials and shapes float and what doesn’t.



Adapt a standard game of dodgeball to include a science element. Introduce pupils to climate science throughout the game so they can learn while having fun. Split your class in half to create two teams and tell them to throw soft balls in and out of a circle aiming at the other team. While children are dodging, talk them through how greenhouse gases warm the planet. Show them that they are replicating this by playing dodgeball in a circle.


Cross curricular learning- girl using table to geocache

Coding & ICT activities

Coding and ICT are fundamental areas of the curriculum. These subjects don’t have to be classroom focused. Why not have a try at these coding and ICT activities that are perfect for the outdoors?


Geocaching treasure hunt

Give children the opportunity to find exciting trinkets and items in your local area by joining the world’s largest treasure hunt, Geocaching. Download a Geocaching app on your class tablet or phone. Let pupils take turns in figuring out where items are so that they can learn navigation skills and GPS.


Coding robot course

As a whole class, build a small coding robot course in the playground and take a coding robot outside. Use various nature items as obstacles and barriers. Give pupils a time limit to find as many nature materials as possible that can build the course.

Once the course is ready, programme the robot together to pass through the maze with no problems. When problems arise, ask your class why they think the robot isn’t managing the course. Use their solutions until the robot finishes without crashing into the barriers.


Teach algorithm & debugging

Gather your pupils in the playground for some independent learning. Teach them all about algorithms and debugging by using egg cartons. These cartons will be used as a grid where children have to make a set of instructions to navigate a toy figure through the grid. This toy figure must go from one side to the other while avoiding lava rocks along the way. To help pupils imagine this better, ask them to decorate their egg cartons turning the bumps into lava rocks.


Make a stop action movie

Hand your class a digital camera or smartphone to take pictures of the outdoors with. Let children explore the outdoors and develop their photography skills. Encourage the use of small toys within the pictures of nature too and ask them to create a series of photos that tell a story. These can then be edited later into a stop action movie.



Use these fun and engaging activities to incorporate cross-curricular learning outdoors. Mix outdoor time with various subject lessons to provide pupils with a different perspective to their learning. Make sure to make the most of better weather and keep safe in hot or cold conditions.

For more outdoor fun check out our outdoor mindfulness activities for kids blog.

<a href="" target="_self">Amber Vaccianna</a>

Amber Vaccianna

Hope blog writer

7 September 2023

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