Outdoor Activities for Physical Development in Early Years

outdoor physical activities for early years

The Importance of Physical Activity and Outdoor Play  

Don’t underestimate the importance of physical development!

It’s important for children to remain active throughout the day, especially as we are seeing an increase in screen time and the use of technology. On top of this it is crucial to promote physical activity from an early age to help to prevent the growing problem of childhood obesity. Toddlers and pre-schoolers should be taught the value of physical activity (both indoors and outdoors), so not only can they reap the benefits of being physically fit, they can also understand and appreciate how important it is for their ongoing health. 

There are so many different physical activities to enhance physical development in early years and outdoor play is one of the most effective ways of doing so! The great outdoors is the place where children are most likely to engage in physical activity, whether that’s through exercise, sport, dance or play.  It’s the perfect environment for young children to explore and challenge their emerging physical skills and movements. 

A healthy physical development helps children reach their full potential, strengthening their bones and muscles and developing control over their body. Physical activity also helps to improve a child’s mental development, learning and wellbeing as well (learn more here), so it’s extremely important to inspire outdoor play and promote a free-flow of outdoor activities in your setting.

There’s no need to spend hours planning every game or activity. As a prime area within the EYFS, it’s important to make the most of everyday opportunities and encourage healthy habits by simply moving around more. Enhance physical development for early years with these exciting outdoor activities! 

Outdoor Activities for Physical Development in Early Years

Dance the Rainbow Bop

Where better to dance than in the fresh air! Dancing in a large open space offers many creative movement possibilities and leads to more expansive physical movement. Taking expressive dance outdoors is a fun way of improving young children’s coordination, balance and body awareness.

So head outside, start up the music, give the children colourful dance scarves and dance wands and let them express themselves and improvise dance moves to their hearts content. You could even add some bubbles into the mix for some exciting bubble popping actions as well!

Ride Balance Bikes

A step towards pedalling a ‘big kids’ bike! Balance Bikes are a great way of introducing young children to cycling and increasing their confidence for when they start riding larger bicycles. Playing outdoors gives children a great sense of freedom and riding balance bikes on their own in the open-air helps to improve their balance, coordination, motor skills and spatial awareness.

So time to hit that milestone, increase the children’s physical activity and stimulate a whole load of excitement with balance bikes!

Climb the Castle Tower

Kids just love climbing – whether that’s climbing a tree, a climbing frame or the steps up to a slide! Climbing is an exciting activity which is essential for a child’s physical development. When young children climb, they are using lots of muscle groups, which improves their strength, endurance, coordination and balance.

Who can reach the top of the tower? Inspire the children’s imagination when they climb up their very first outdoor climbing frame (aka pretend castle tower) to reach the magical fairy tale kingdom!

Act Out a Story

There’s no better stage for dramatic play than the great outdoors! Nature offers endless imaginative play opportunities, whether that’s jumping in puddles (an imaginary ocean) or collecting twigs (imaginary spaghetti) for dinner! Role play has many learning benefits and can help to develop children’s gross motor skills through acting out movements such as running, throwing and climbing.

Inspire the children’s creativity through active stories! Let them choose from a selection of dressing up outfits and role play resources, then asking them to either re-enact a traditional tale, such as little red riding hood in the woods, or explore their own imagination – whether that’s a pirate searching for treasure or a superhero saving lives!

Plant a Vegetable Garden

Children love getting mucky and exploring the natural world! Gardening with kids is a fantastic way to stimulate their senses, encourage healthy eating and enhance physical development. When children plant, they use different tools and get their hands messy in the soil. This heightens their sense of independence and strengthens their fine and gross motor skills, muscles and coordination.

Why not teach the children about organic food as well while you are gardening? Head outside and let the children grow their very own organic veggies garden patch, from cucumbers to sweet peppers, and inspire a healthy lifestyle.

Time to get outside…!

Don’t forget to let us know how the little ones get on with these exciting outdoor physical activities on our Facebook or Twitter! Learn more about the importance of physical development for children here.

Looking for physical development equipment and resources?

If you’re looking for EYFS physical development resources to increase physical activity, you’ve come to the right place. Explore our extensive selection of Physical Development Equipment for early years – including climbing frames, games, soft play equipment, dance resources, bikes, ride-ons and much more! 

link to tennis resources
www.education-ni.gov.uk – Play Matters, NI Gov.
www.learning.gov.wales – Do and Discover
www.mommyuniversitynj.com – Jessica Lopa, Mommy University

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