Everyday Fun Outdoors


This topical guide will introduce you to important books, videos, and information resources available from the EI Clearinghouse and other sources.

Contact us via online form or by phone (1-877-275-3227) to request a resource listed below (or ask your local public librarian). Note that some videos may be viewed online, and journal titles will take you to the publisher’s homepage.

girl blowing on flower


15 Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect With Your Kids
Rebecca Cohen
Sourcebooks, 2011
A month-by-month collection of 365 easy and enjoyable ways to connect as a family and explore life outdoors.
Call#: GV 182.8 .C64 2011

100+ Fun Outdoor Activities for Toddlers
Flossie Ang
Abel Publishing, 2021
This book provides over 100 different activities to get toddlers outside and to help parents feel capable of providing fun, engaging, entertaining outdoor activities that toddlers and parents can do together.
Only available as an eBook.

Balanced and Barefoot : How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable Children
Angela Hanscom
New Harbinger, 2016
This book explains why unrestrained movement and outdoor play are vital for children’s cognitive development, and offers fun, engaging activities to help ensure that kids grow into healthy, balanced, and resilient adults.
Call#: HQ 782 .H346 2016
Also available as an eBook

Come and Play: Sensory-Integration Strategies for Children With Play Challenges
Aerial Cross
Redleaf Press, 2010
This book explores common play challenges and intervention techniques to use when you observe children struggling to play. Focusing on large motor and outdoor play activities, this book also includes background information and sensory-integration play tips from an experienced occupational therapist.
Call#: LB 1139.5 .P55C76 2010

Hey Kids! Out the Door, Let’s Explore
Rhoda Redleaf
Redleaf Press, 2010
Whether there are pastures or skyscrapers outside your door, the world around you is rich with learning opportunities. Walking trips are a terrific—and inexpensive—way for children to explore and experience the community.
Call#: GV 199.5 .R44 2010

The Homegrown Preschooler: Teaching Your Kids in the Places They Live
Kathy Lee and Lesli Richards
Gryphon House, 2013
This book is filled with ideas for children of all ages finding fun learning opportunities in everyday occurrences, from using laundry to teach sorting to exploring growth cycles in the garden.
Call#: LC 40 .L44 2013

I Love Dirt! 52 Activities to Help You and Your Kids Discover the Wonders of Nature
Jennifer Ward
Roost Books, 2008
Presents open-ended activities to help you engage your child in the outdoors. No matter what your location, from a small patch of green in the city to the wide-open meadows of the country.
Call#: GV 191.63 .W36 2008

Nature Play at Home
Nancy Striniste
Timber Press, 2019
This book provides tools you need to make outdoor adventures possible in your own backyard. With hundreds of inspiring ides and illustrated step-by-step projects this hardworking book details how to create play spaces that use natural materials.
Only available as an eBook

The Outdoor Toddler Activity Book: 100+ Fun Early Learning Activities for Outside Play
Krissy Bonning-Gould
Rockridge Press, 2019
Outdoor play promotes creativity, strengthens muscles, enhances social and emotional development, and makes learning fun. This book includes developmental milestones, skill-building exercises, and activity tips and tricks to help make the most out of outdoor play.
Call#: LC 1038 .B6439 2019


Any Place, Any Time, Anywhere! Everyday Learning in Community Activities
24 min; DVD
Winterberry Press, 2009
This video offers parents, caregivers and professionals an eye-opening look at the extraordinary world of children’s learning that occurs every day as part of community life.
Call#: LB 1060 .A637 2009

Babies Outdoors: Play, Learning and Development
53 min; DVD
Siren Films, 2010
The outdoors is as valuable for babies as it is for older children, and this film shows how the close adult can bring the outside world alive for them.
Call#: HQ 774.5 .B117 2010

Signing Time: The Great Outdoors
30 min; DVD
Two Little Hands, 2006
A multisensory program that introduces children to a “hands on” second language. This video teaches signs about things found in nature: woodland animals, bugs, and more.
Call#: HV 2476 .S578t 2006

Toddlers Outdoors: Play, Learning and Development
65 min; DVD
Siren Films, 2010
The outdoors is as valuable for babies as it is for older children, and this film shows how the close adult can bring the outside world alive for them.
Call#: HQ 774.5 .T5669 2010

Everyday Learning Opportunities: Outings
15 min; Online
This video provides some general and specific information about child development as it relates to exploration, share why outings are important, and offer some suggestions that you might find helpful for your next outing. Also in Spanish.


Hike it Baby
Hike it Baby provides information on hiking and camping with young children, finding family-friendly trails, and family activities to do in parks and other outdoor spaces.


Young Children, 69(5), 28-34
Quality Outdoor Play Spaces for Young Children
Karin Spencer and Paul Wright. (2014)
From National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). This article offers an evidence-based approach to planning your outdoor play space for caregivers. This article is available for free from NAEYC here: https://issuu.com/naeyc/docs/yc1114_quality_outdoor_play_spaces_

Young Children, 71(1), 94-96
Rocking and Rolling. Sharing the Wonder: Science with Infants and Toddlers
Emily Adams and Rebecca Parlakian. (2016)
Infants and toddlers are natural scientists. This article explains scientific inquiry, which allows children to develop a range of skills across all domains of development.

Young Children,73(5)
From Puddles to Pigeons: Learning about Nature in Cities
Marion Goldstein, et al. (2018)
The outdoors is a great place to learn about science. This article provides examples of ways young children can engage with the environment and build their understanding of nature. This article is available for free from NAEYC here: https://www.naeyc.org/resources/pubs/yc/nov2018/learning-about-nature-cities

News You Can Use: Take It Outside
Early Childhood Learning & Knowledge Center. (2012)
Infants and toddlers learn about their environment through their senses. Families and providers can be intentional about outdoor play by considering the activities and experiences for young children.

Web Resources

Encouraging Development in Everyday Spaces (EIC)
A parent-friendly tip sheet created by the Illinois Early Intervention Clearinghouse. Also available in Spanish.

Natural Environments: Where All Children Belong (EIC)
A parent-friendly tip sheet created by the Illinois Early Intervention Clearinghouse. Also available in Spanish.

Parenting Can Be Child’s Play (EIC)
A parent-friendly tip sheet created by the Illinois Early Intervention Clearinghouse. Also available in Spanish.

Explore the Great Outdoors with Your Child
This NAEYC article provides families with few steps to take to guide children’s exploration of the great outdoors.

Get Growing Tip Sheet Series
These four tip sheets can help families with young children plan and grow a garden from seed.

Natural Illinois Tip Sheet Series
These eight tip sheets can help families with young children appreciate the outdoors by exploring trees, leaves, rocks, butterflies, insects, birds, and more.

Children Thrive Outside: A New Day for Outdoor Play in Child Care
This webinar, hosted by New America, highlights opportunities to build outdoor learning opportunities that help young children thrive, especially children who may lack access to safe parks, nearby nature, or free time with family.

Playground Safety
This resource from HealthyChildren.org lists safety tips for families at the playground. Also in Spanish.

Play Well Outdoors Pack
This resource from Play Scotland includes ideas, games, and activities that families of young children can do outside.

Supporting Outdoor Play and Exploration for Infants and Toddlers
This paper explores the benefits of outdoor time for infants and toddlers in center-based, family child care, and home-based programs.

Family, Nature, Play, & You
This digital guide for families addresses five reasons, five ways, five places, and five times to connect and play in nature.

Related Resource(s)