I’m always more than ready to go outside and dig in the dirt at the first sign of spring. Planting flowers in pots and small flower beds just makes everything beautiful again! The fresh air, crisp wind, and sparkling sunshine are good for my soul.

Children naturally love the outdoors. They like running, jumping, playing in the dirt, and splashing in puddles. Preschool and kindergarten-aged children need ample amounts of outdoor play, and homeschool moms don’t have to sacrifice precious hours of learning in order to satisfy this need. We can take learning outdoors! With the busyness of life and the drive to check everything off the list, moms may forget the benefits of outdoor learning, but it is vital in child development.

Recognizing and writing the alphabet and numbers, learning consonant and vowel sounds, and drawing shapes are some of the first skills acquired in early learning development. The good news is that reviewing these skills outdoors as children delight in the pretty sunshine is relatively easy. It just takes a little thought and minimal prep work. Here are seven ways to appreciate the outdoors while mastering early writing skills.

1. Take a Portable Chalkboard or Dry Erase Board Outside

Last Christmas my children were given a portable chalkboard/dry erase board from their grandparents. A paper roll is also positioned between the two boards; so pulling the paper over one of the boards and clipping it in place is another option. It makes a fantastic three-in-one device. I always look forward to taking our boards outside as we practice drawing shapes, letters, and numbers. Plus, that chalk dust will make much less of a mess outside!

2. Write in the Sand

Sandboxes are popular play areas for many families. Drawing shapes and alphabet letters is an ideal activity for outdoor play in the sandbox. Children can use a stick or their fingers! This activity is also handy for reviewing letters and shapes while on vacation at the beach!

3. Make Chalk Art

Drawing shapes and letters outside on the sidewalk is an entertaining activity for parents and children as they make memories. Just make a big pitcher of lemonade, and get busy creating! A large driveway and some sidewalk chalk is also an ingenious place for a practice spelling test.

4. Make Alphabet Letters Out of Construction Paper or Foam & Decorate Them With Markers or Glitter

Call me the “no fun mama,” but I don’t like glitter in the house, and washable markers are a must! Children essentially love glitter, however, so the best use for it is in outdoor play. Give them pre-cut letters or shapes, and let them glitter decorate until their little hearts are content!

5. Use Sticks or Small Rocks to Make Letters or Numbers

Give your little ones a container to gather their sticks and rocks. Collecting the materials for their “writing” project will also expend loads of energy. They will enjoy looking for smaller stones and sticks, collecting them, and building shapes, alphabet letters, and numbers.

6. Paint with Water

A bucket of water and a small paintbrush is all that is needed for this simple outdoor writing activity. Children will love painting letters, shapes, and spelling words on colored construction paper, the sidewalk, or even a dark colored fence. If it’s a hot day, the sun may dry up their artwork quickly, but it will still bring loads of amusement and fun.

7. Open the Window in the Classroom

While my last suggestion is not an outdoor activity, I believe it is vital to bring the outdoors inside. I have a large window in my homeschool room, and I love opening the window while we work inside. It brings a breath of fresh air to the classroom and allows us to appreciate nature while we complete assignments inside.

These seven ways for appreciating the outdoors while mastering early writing skills are easy to implement, especially on days when the sun is shining bright in the sky, beckoning you and your children to come out and enjoy nature. I hope you will try a couple of these suggestions with your little ones and relish the experience of outdoor learning.

Copyright 2019, The Old Schoolhouse®. Used with permission. All rights reserved by the author. Originally appeared in the Homeschool Supplement 2019 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the trade publication for homeschool moms.

Kristin Dunn

Kristin Dunn is a wife, homeschool mama, piano teacher, and church musician. She completed a Bachelor of Science and M. Ed. in Elementary Education and has teaching experience in both the traditional classroom and as a distance learning instructor. Kristin loves creating recipes, planting pretty flowers, learning new skills, organizing, and minimalist decorating.