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9 Outdoor Play & Educational Opportunities for Kids Right in Your Own Backyard

Use outdoor play in your backyard as an educational classroom.

We understand technology is valuable when it comes to learning. But at Ryan Lawn & Tree, we love creating and maintaining special outdoor landscape designs that provide a nature landscape and green lawn that can enhance your child’s learning and outdoor play! So during this unprecedented time in our world with so many families sheltering at home and parents attempting to provide educational activities, enjoy your backyard design with a little old-fashioned outdoor play combined with a pinch of educational opportunity! We have the ideas that will make your backyard more conducive to play and imagination while teaching your kids to appreciate nature. Together, we can enjoy nature and each other and pull through these challenging days. 


1. Combine math and creativity by constructing a treehouse together.

Add to your backyard design with a treehouse! When built safely, a treehouse can create countless hours of outdoor fun and adventure that can send any imagination soaring to new heights. Let it be a project for the whole family, and let the kids give their input into treehouse layout and design (within reason, of course). They can learn math skills as they design and measure walls, ladders, doors and windows. They’ll work on physical dexterity as they cut, hammer, and nail pieces needed for their new home. And, they will love expressing their creativity as they determine a theme and decor for their house that reflects their personalities. After all, a treehouse can be almost anything from a castle looking out over a vast kingdom to a headquarters for superheroes as they work together to save the world. The memories a child can make in a treehouse have the potential to be long-lasting and the educational opportunities are tremendous.


2. Add daydreaming to your curriculum with the simplicity of a tree swing.

Backyard Activities Swinging Ryan Lawn

Commercial playsets are a wonderful source of entertainment, but how about an old-fashioned wooden swing or saucer tree swing that hangs from a couple of trees as part of your front yard landscaping? The simplicity could help kids appreciate the low-tech things in life, give them an opportunity for physical activity and help them see the happenings of the neighborhood from a distance. It could also become a place to think, reflect and daydream away from the electronics and television screens. After all, many professionals say daydreaming is easily as beneficial to your child’s health and wellbeing as sleep.


3. Design a nature trail outside in your backyard.

Depending on the size of your backyard you may have, creating a small path through the property can be a fun way to have your very own nature walk. Mark the trail with rocks, mulch or trees and consider landscaping along the side with various flowers and shrubs. For the kids, it could become a place to expend physical energy with games like hopscotch, research birds and insects, express creativity through photography or create a story by pretending they are walking on a long journey to another land. Depending on your backyard lights or landscape lighting, consider taking the moon for a walk some evening. This is just one of many educational activities we love from our friends at Tinkergarten


4. Build a birdhouse together then watch and research the birds.

Outdoor play backyard learning activities building birdhouseAnother way to practice those math and hands-on skills is by caring for our flying friends with the construction of a birdhouse. It’s likely safe to say many children don’t know the difference between a cardinal and a robin, so building a birdhouse can be a way of teaching them (and you) more about nature. Once it’s completed, use it as an opportunity to learn about all different types of birds, and encourage the kids to keep a journal, writing down and drawing pictures of all the types of visitors they see. The Audobon Society is a good resource for researching the types of birds they may see  — whether you’re part of our RYAN family near Kansas City, Tulsa, Springfield, St. Louis or Wichita.


5. Develop a uniquely individual outdoor “space” for your child’s learning.Outdoor play backyard activities reading space

Trying to get your child to read more? Consider building an outdoor chair or table as part of your backyard design for them to go to read a printed book while enjoying the outdoors. You could even install outdoor string lights or security lighting for evening reading lights in their outdoor space. It could also be a place where they can use actual pen and paper to write and journal. Perhaps they could keep a diary of all the things they see outside or even write a story from the inner workings of their imagination.


6. Create an outdoor play camping oasis.

Backyard camping on your lush, green lawn is always a classic family activity. To make the most of the experience, why not create a fun campsite in your outdoor space to host such adventures? It could include landscaping projects such as bushes or trees for some privacy, outdoor landscape lighting or perhaps even a fire pit to properly make hot dogs and s’mores for classic outdoor dining. This way any time you attempt to stay outside all night, you can have a more comfortable space to enjoy nature and your landscape. Camping as a family can create special memories and be a great reward for hard-studying kids. 


7. Develop some green thumbs.Planting plants in outdoor backyard Ryan Lawn

Not only can a garden help save money on the grocery bill, but it also instills a sense of responsibility and pride over the environment they helped create! Begin small with just a few types of plants and gradually add more with the goal being for the kids to take over the tasks of watering, pruning and the like. Consider beginning with RYAN’s choice for 10 low maintenance outdoor flowers!  


8. Make a science outdoor play classroom.

Enjoy outdoor play at night by getting a telescope for the backyard. Searching the Milky Way will keep the kids engaged for hours and teach them more about the universe. Spot the Big and Little Dippers as well as Jupiter, Saturn and Mars.  Have children record the time of sunrise and sunset each day and note how it changes by about three minutes in the Midwest. The National Science Foundation provides resources and classroom lessons for the study of astronomy. While you are at it, what about making a good place to do all those science experiments that are too messy to do inside? An outdoor chair, table or small concrete slab could be the perfect place to set off some chemical reactions.


9. Consider the needs of your furry children as well.

Many families have adopted dogs with the idea the kids are going to be the primary caregivers. We all know that sometimes doesn’t happen quite as hoped, so why not make caring for the dogs fun for the kids and a learning experience while they’re home all day? Research your pet’s breed and outline best practices for feeding, grooming and training your dog. Work with your kids to design a small canine obstacle course in your backyard for outdoor play. You’ll keep your kids thinking and you could literally send tails wagging and help the kids find enjoyment in training and caring for their pet.


We hope you enjoy some quality outdoor play with the family that produces lasting memories and important educational benefits while your children are home. And the next time the kids begin to bury their heads in devices and start neglecting fresh air, be sure to keep these ideas in mind.

At Ryan Lawn & Tree, we promise to keep providing a beautiful outdoor green space with lush green lawns and strong trees to set the stage for your backyard educational adventures. Put RYAN’s 30 years of experience to work creating a lawn and outdoor landscape design you’ll love and enjoy for years to come.  For a free custom quote on lawn care, tree planting or landscape design, contact us today.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. ~ 2 Timothy 1:7

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