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

Fun Lesson Ideas For School Outdoor Classrooms

school girl drawing in a sunshine canopy outdoors

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 children’s development. This can be achieved through outdoor playground equipment and climbing frames, or our excellent 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’ve found the perfect solution to this problem through the use of school outdoor classrooms!

An outdoor school classroom allows 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. But before we move any further, you might want to read our article on Top 5 Benefits Of Outdoor Classrooms For Schools for more useful information.

Now let’s take a look at some of the great games and lesson ideas we have for using outdoor classrooms and shelters!

Why Does Outdoor Time Matter? 

In case you’re wondering why outdoor classrooms for schools improve child development, we have all the answers you need.

Outdoor learning is critical for every child as it provides them with direct contact with the natural world and its many wonders. Most people live an urban lifestyle, which doesn’t allow them to experience the relationship between their actions and the elements that 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, all of which are primary skills they’ll carry with them for life. It is also a source of powerful learning experiences as 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’ve seen during our wonderful work with the Ashmount Primary School.

Learning in the great outdoors provides such a different environment to the classroom, that children who normally struggle as classroom learners often become motivated to transform into fully 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 can awaken their potential. Even people who are excellent learners in indoor environments encounter different learning experiences outdoors, which really shows that outdoor play is critical for children’s developmeent. 

Our Range of Inspirational Outdoor Classroom Settings

Our most popular outdoor classroom is our famous Earth Pod, an exciting addition to any outdoor space, and highly versatile by nature as it can be transformed to suit many scenarios and school areas. For example, they can be used as a reading snug for quiet time, or as an outdoor classroom for a more 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 children for a fun day to learn outside! This is a global campaign to celebrate and inspire outdoor learning and play, where thousands of schools across the UK and Ireland take part each year in taking the day to incorporate outdoor learning into their lessons as much as possible. 

Alongside our Earth Pod, we have many other different structures that allow children to get outdoors and explore in different ways, such as our range of Gazebos and Canopies, which can seamlessly extend the indoor classroom space to the outdoors. These make it easier for children to have time to learn and play outdoors, whilst inviting them to explore nature within a safe and exciting environment. 

We also have a range of Amphitheatres which allow students to show their more dramatic side. At Red Monkey Play, we love to emphasise the importance of role-play in the development of our students, as we know that providing them with an outdoor area to really explore this side of them can greatly boost their social development, and much more. If you want to find out more, we have a great blog about Why Free Play Is So Important In Early Years, packed with valuable information.

And finally, we have our Treehouse Classroom, a fantastic outdoor shelter that was perfect for the Delves Infant and Nursery School’s ecozone that we designed and created, which is only one of our many satisfied customers! The unit is large enough to hold a whole class of children, and the lookout platform allows them to observe their surroundings high within the trees, which is perfect for when you want your students to have the chance to take in their area. A specially constructed treehouse like this one can provide an aesthetically pleasing space that blends naturally into its surroundings, as well as being a cost-effective option when compared to brick buildings.

How Can You Use These Spaces In Lesson Time?

Our school outdoor classrooms are not only ideal for an unstructured time during breaks, but also for formal class time. This is because we’ve designed these play and learning spaces with versatility in mind, to allow teachers to make the most out of their teaching time, which offers a great value for money. Here are a few lesson ideas you can use for the many outdoor equipment units that we provide. 

Earth Pods

Red Monkey Play Wooden Earth Pod With Children Inside

Fantasy Roleplay 

As the design is loosely based upon hobbit homes, you can reenact scenes from The Hobbit or The Lord of The Rings. You can also teach scenes and assign roles beforehand, and have the following lessons act out the scenes. Also, as a taller teacher, you will make the ideal candidate to play Gandalf! Learning roles, memorising speech, and getting creative with drama support the development of many different social skills in children. 

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. You can also set up natural interaction stations inside the classroom and outside within 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

Play area built with wooden outdoor playground equipment


Our Canvas Gazebo is waterproof and large enough for small groups of students where you can demonstrate the sound and sensation of the rain hitting the waterproof surface by using a hose to spray water over it. You can then create different workstations that demonstrate other instances of the weather. This type of learning is very inclusive as it stimulates students’s senses at the same time, which is a valuable life skill needed for emotional development. 

Art Class

Our Sunshine Canopy is one of the best outdoor classroom ideas for schools as it allows students to sit and work safely outdoors whilst being protected from the sun. Here they can do a lifestyle art session where you can pick out sections of the outdoors, so they can have a go at drawing them. You can also teach the vocabulary beforehand, so students can fully understand what you want them to draw before they start. Simply separate them into groups or even individually, and give them different things to draw, and the chance to compare their final drawings amongst friends for an extra touch of fun!


Large Wooden Amphitheatre

Dance Off

Our Amphitheatre makes the perfect space for any performance, especially dancing like nobody is watching! Before this class, you can teach a number of simple dance moves to go with vocabulary, and on the day of the dance-off, you can have either groups of students battle each other, a 1-on-1, or a free for all session. Shout out the vocabulary, and the last one to do the dance move is out. You can even have an audience clapping and keeping the dancers motivated until the last dancing contenders have the ultimate dance-off. 

Treehouse Classroom

Outdoor Wooden Treehouse Classroom

Eye Spy

Our Treehouse Classroom offers children a high vantage point as it allows them to really observe their surroundings from above. You can pre-teach a list of vocabulary and phrases which they’ll be able to see from the treehouse and have them use them during the game. Name a student to lead the game, and encourage them to use the list of vocabulary words or phrases. Once that word has been used and guessed, it’s now off the list. 

How Can Red Monkey Play Support You

At Red Monkey Play, we’re dedicated to transforming any school and nursery outdoor space into a learning and play area that both teachers and students will love! We can help you seamlessly combine learning spaces with the outdoors, and all you have to do is to book a FREE consultation where we can show you exactly how we create our bespoke school outdoor classrooms with our consultative playground design service.

In the meantime, you can browse our Case Studies to see exactly what we’ve done for other customers, and contact us if you have any questions, as our friendly team is always happy to help. In case you missed them, here are more useful articles that can offer you much-needed inspiration and information when planning your dream school or nursery playground:


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