Tips & Guides, Learning & Development, Outdoor Classrooms & Shelters

Lesson Ideas for Outdoor Classrooms for Schools

outdoor playground equipment for schools

Children in their earlier years cannot learn solely from structured classroom time. A child who is still developing as a human being must have multiple sources of stimulus besides the classroom to really grow as a person. This is not undermining the classroom space in any way, it simply needs to be used in conjunction with outdoor learning spaces in order to support with children’s development. This can be achieved through outdoor playground equipment and climbing frames or our range of outdoor classrooms and shelters. 

As many schools are cutting down on time allowed for lunch and breaks due to budget constraints, it may be harder than ever for a school to implement this outdoor time. We believe that we have found the perfect solution to this problem through the use of outdoor classrooms. These allow your children to get the best out of both worlds and the much needed outdoor time they need, as well as have your teaching staff utilise lesson time appropriately. Let’s look at some of the great games and lesson ideas we have for using outdoor classrooms and shelters. 

Why Does Outdoor Time Matter? 

Outdoor learning is critical for every child and provides them with direct contact with the natural world. Many people live an urban lifestyle which does not allow them to experience the relationship between their actions and the elements which support life on earth. Outdoor learning allows children to develop values and opinions that are informed by the first-hand experience of the natural world, primary skills they will carry with them for life

Outdoor learning is a source of powerful learning experiences. It can be exciting, inspirational, developmental and rewarding in many ways. The power of outdoor learning makes it a valued means for overcoming some of the toughest learning challenges, both physical and cognitive. For example, it can bring about personal breakthroughs for people with learning difficulties, as we have seen with our work with the Ashmount Primary School.

Outdoor learning provides such a different environment to the classroom that people who normally struggle as classroom learners often become motivated and capable learners outdoors. Teachers are frequently surprised by the abilities and interests shown by ‘poorly performing’ students when outdoors and by the extent to which outdoor learning has awakened their potential. Even people who are excellent learners in indoor environments encounter different learning experiences outdoors. This really shows that outdoor play is critical for developing children. 

Our Range of Inspirational Outdoor Classroom Settings

Our main outdoor classroom is our range of earth pods. Our earth pods are an exciting addition to any outdoor space and are versatile by nature as they can be transformed to suit many scenarios. For example, they can be used as a reading snug for quiet time or outdoor classrooms for a sheltered and engaging learning zone outside of the traditional classroom. 

With outdoor classroom day starting back again in November, this is the best way to prepare for a day to learn outside! This is a global campaign to celebrate and inspire outdoor learning and play. Thousands of schools across the UK and Ireland take part each year and take the day to incorporate outdoor learning into their lessons as much as possible. How better to do this than with our outdoor classrooms and shelters. 

Alongside these earth pods, we have a number of different structures which allow a child to get outdoors and explore in different ways. We have a number of gazebos and canopies which seamlessly extend the indoor classroom space to the outdoors. This makes it easier for children to have time to learn and play outdoors, allowing the children to explore nature in a safe and exciting environment. 

We also have amphitheatres, which allow students to show their more dramatic side. Here at Red Monkey Play, we love to emphasise the importance of role-play in the development of students. Providing them with an outdoor area to really explore this side to them will boost their social development greatly. 

Finally, we have our treehouses. These fantastic outdoor shelters were perfect for the Delves Infant and Nursery School’s ecozone that we designed and created. Large enough to hold a class of children, the lookout platform allows them to observe their surroundings high within the trees, perfect for when you want your children to have the chance to take in their area.  A specially constructed treehouse can provide an aesthetically pleasing space that blends naturally into its surroundings, as well as being a cost-effective option compared to brick buildings.

How Can You Use These Spaces in Lesson Time?

These spaces are not only great for the unstructured time during breaks but also for formal class time. We have designed these spaces with versatility in mind, allowing your teachers to make the most out of them and therefore makes them great value for money. Here are a few lesson ideas you can use for the different outdoor equipment that we have. 

Earth Pods

– Fantasy role-play – as the design is loosely based upon hobbit homes, you can reenact scenes from The Hobbit or The Lord of The Rings. Teach scenes and assign roles beforehand and have the following lesson acting out the scenes. As a taller teacher, you make the ideal candidate to play Gandalf! Learning roles, memorising speech and getting creative with drama supports the development of many different social skills. 

– Sensory play – the earth pod is finished with a natural wooden exterior, however, there is an option to upgrade this to an artificial grass covering. This makes it a great opportunity to immerse children in a sensory learning environment. Set up natural interaction stations inside the classroom and outside with the pod and the surrounding environment, then have your students touch and interact with these stations and then write down what they saw, smelt and felt. These pods provide a new setting to take on challenges and learn life skills without even realising it. 

Gazebos and Canopies

– Weather – our canvas gazebo is waterproof and large enough for small groups of students. You can demonstrate the sound and sensation of the rain hitting the waterproof surface by taking them to this gazebo and using a hose to spray water over the gazebo. You can then create different workstations that demonstrate other instances of the weather. This type of learning is so inclusive as it stimulates the whole classes senses at the same time, a valuable life skill needed for emotional development. 

– Art Class – our sunshade canopy is the perfect setting to allow students to sit and work safely whilst being outdoors and protected from the sun. Here they can do a lifestyle art session, where you can pick out sections of the outdoors and they can have a go at drawing them. Teach the vocabulary before so students fully understand what you want them to draw before they start. Separate them into groups or even individually, giving them different things to draw and the change to compare their final drawings amongst friends!


– Dance-off – this stage makes the perfect space for performance. Before this class, teach a number of dance moves to go with vocabulary. On the day of the dance-off, have either groups of students battle each other, a 1-on-1 or a free for all. Shout out the vocabulary and the last one to do the dance move is out. Have an audience clapping and keeping the dancers motivated until the last dancing contenders have the ultimate dance-off. 


– Eye spy – having such a high vantage point allows students to really observe their surroundings. Pre-teach a list of vocabulary and phrases which they will be able to see from the treehouse and have them use this in the game. Have a student lead the game, using this list of vocabulary words or phrases. Once that word has been used and guessed, it’s now off the list. 

Get In Touch Today

Let us transform your outdoor spaces with our outdoor classrooms and shelters. We help seamlessly combine learning spaces out the outdoors. We can book a free consultation where we can show you exactly how we’ll create your bespoke outdoor spaces with our consultative playground design service. Experience on our website exactly what we have done for other schools with our case studies. Get in touch today!

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