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Top 5 Books About Outdoor Learning

Posted on: September 28, 2022

Any teacher can tell you that learning happens inside and outside of the classroom. For many children, being able to do activities outside is ideal as it offers them the space for more physical play and freedom to follow their own interests.

These moments also offer unique learning opportunities, as well as contribute to children’s physical health and well-being. Keep reading as we break down what “outdoor learning” means and the top 5 books to get any educator inspired for their next lesson:

What is outdoor learning?

Outdoor learning doesn’t define a specific type of lesson plan or experience. Instead, it’s a broad term that covers any activities that take place in nature and help children learn. Many educators who use outdoor learning highlight its benefits for physical, emotional, social, behavioral and intellectual development. 

The outdoor space could be anywhere outside of the classroom, including the school playground, a local wildlife sanctuary or a community garden. Meanwhile, the activity or experience can support the curriculum and/or develop key skills from team-building to sustainability to social development.

Top 5 books about outdoor learning

Ready to incorporate outdoor learning into your students’ lesson plans, but not sure where to start? That’s where our curated list of the top 5 books about outdoor education can help you find the perfect resource for your needs:

The Essential Guide to Forest School and Nature Pedagogy by Jon Cree and Marina Robb

This outdoor learning guide focuses specifically on the ways Nature Pedagogy can help young children learn about and form relationships with nature and wildlife. The authors dive into real examples of lessons, sample session plans and detailed language to encourage children and young adults through outdoor education. It also digs into the logistical details, such as finding an outdoor site, preparing school policies and creating group procedures.

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The Outdoor Classroom in Practice, Ages 3–7: A Month-By-Month Guide to Forest School Provision by Karen Constable

This book ensures that teachers have the tools to utilize outdoor spaces to their full potential for early years education. It specifically draws on forest school practice to create a month-by-month guide for outdoor learning between ages 3-7. Beyond offering activity suggestions, the author also includes evaluations for theme-related play experiences to gauge learning and development.

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Playing and Learning Outdoors: The Practical Guide and Sourcebook for Excellence in Outdoor Provision and Practice with Young Children by Jan White

Now in it's third edition, this book is completely up-to-date with the early childhood education frameworks within the UK — and it’s a great reference for early education educators. It showcases the best ways to combine outdoor play and early education for kids aged seven and under. It also includes additional picture book suggestions within each chapter, relating to a specific outdoor education theme.

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Developing Creativity and Curiosity Outdoors: How to Extend Creative Learning in the Early Years by Julie Johnson and Ann Watts

Designed to inspire early years practitioners and students, this book guides readers through a broad range of ideas and activities that can be applied to different outdoor settings. It uses forest school theories of creative learning and development to encourage children to speak, listen, play and learn while engaging with the natural world. To support each activity, there are case study examples, as well as chapter questions to help improve the outdoor learning experience.

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Outdoor Play for Healthy Little Minds: Practical Ideas to Promote Children’s Wellbeing in the Early Years by Sarah Watkins

Outdoor play can be extremely beneficial for the mental health of young children. Sarah Watkins’ book is a vital resource for early year practitioners that want to utilize outdoor play to foster children’s emotional and social wellbeing. This text guides teachers through firsthand case studies, practical advice and guidance to foster healthy relationships and improve self-esteem.

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What is the goal of outdoor learning?

Outdoor learning can be an essential part of a young person’s educational journey. By incorporating firsthand experiences with nature, wildlife and the great outdoors, children can form stronger bonds with the lessons and subjects they learn about.

For example, it’s interesting to hear about the importance of recycling and taking care of the planet, but its impact is more powerful when students can witness the results firsthand and gain practical knowledge.

Additional resources for outdoor learning from Taylor & Francis

If you’re excited to learn more about outdoor learning, you can count on Taylor & Francis to have the resources you need. Explore more books that cover outdoor education, lesson plan ideas and more.

Want a sneak peek of Sarah Watkins’ Outdoor Play for Healthy Little Minds: Practical Ideas to Promote Children’s Wellbeing in the Early Years? Get access to a free outdoor play chapter.