Advantages of Outdoor Classrooms for Schools

Now, more than ever, outdoor classrooms are vitally important to a child’s well-being and development.

For decades children have spent an increasing amount of time indoors. Children as young as five years old have already spent less time outdoors than their parents did by that age! As a result of this, elementary age children have inadequate physical activity and poor diets. According to the Centers for Disease Control Physical Activity Guidelines for School-Aged Children and Adolescents, children age 6-17 should get 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily. Outdoor classrooms and playgrounds are a great way to help get children moving.

“Compared to those who are inactive, physically active youth have higher levels of fitness, lower body fat, and stronger bones and muscles. Physical activity also has brain health benefits for school-aged children, including improved cognition (e.g., academic performance, memory) and reduced symptoms of depression. Regular physical activity in childhood and adolescence can also be important for promoting lifelong health and well-being and preventing risk factors for various health conditions like heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.” –Centers for Disease Control

Benefits of an Outdoor Classroom

Elementary schools and education facilities that include outdoor classrooms can offer tremendous benefits to children. In addition, they provide an added value to their educational programs and administrators often see an improvement in enrollment.

Schools across the country who don’t already have an outdoor classroom component are now considering it. It is a popular subject in education circles and blogs, like one recently posted in Education Week online.

Outdoor Classrooms for Children

Children of all ages can benefit from an outdoor classroom, whether it is adjacent to an elementary school, attached to a playground, or even in a natural or community park environment. Studies have shown that children who experience at least a portion of their day in an outdoor learning environment experience cognitive and psychological benefits as well as the more obvious physical benefits.

Outdoor Learning Benefits to Children:

  • Increases curiosity and interest in science and nature
  • Improves understanding of the physical environment and appreciation of the natural world
  • Encourages learning through investigation, problem-solving and observation
  • Cultivates personal responsibility
  • Advances physical development, capability, and activity
  • Promotes an active, healthy lifestyle
  • Improves emotional wellness and self-esteem

Components of an Outdoor Classroom

What is it that makes up a successful outdoor learning environment for children? For starters there must be some structure or curricula. Without structure, an outdoor classroom is simply a playground. And while there are countless benefits to children while playing on a playground, an outdoor classroom should offer guided learning.

Educators and administrators designing an outdoor classroom should consider both a space for classroom-style learning as well as exploratory or self-guided learning. Equipping a physical space with tables, benches or stools, and shelter are important components to children’s safety. Additional components such as raised stages, chalkboards or writing boards help define the space. Even subject matter specific pieces like musical instruments, educational banners or art boards can add learning stations to an outdoor classroom.

Whatever the space, outdoor classrooms offer children a variety both educational and fun ways to get physical activity long with learning language and communication skills, creativity, and providing for social and emotional development.

Today’s Changing Classroom Environment

With the uncertain nature of indoor or close-contact learning environments, many schools and education centers are turning to outdoor learning options. Social distancing can be difficult with an indoor classroom. This is why outdoor classrooms are becoming popular in hundreds of school districts across the United States.

Creating the perfect, functional outdoor classroom can be as simple as providing a place for children to sit. Depending on the space that is designated for learning, it is important to have structurally sound components that are meant for the outdoors. Careful planning can make for a positive educational experience for children and teachers alike.

Play Mart offers outdoor classroom equipment designed specifically for children age five through adult. Our experts have developed commercial-grade outdoor learning components for classrooms, crafts, reading time, science projects, music lessons and gardening. Our full product line products includes tables, musical instruments, storage sheds, art panels, chalkboards, garden beds, sensory water and sand tables and much more. And, all products are made from recycled materials!

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"I'm not sure whether the kids would have caused damage to the playset at some point, but the playground survived the hurricane. Your RSP™ is amazing."

Tim H. Gateway Services Community Development District

Ft Myers, FL

“I would just like to let you know Play Mart did a wonderful job on the packing/shipping and installation instructions. We have installed almost every manufacturer in the market and your company is the most installation friendly we have done in years.”

Playground Installation Crew


“The contractor who assembled the set told me it was his first experience with recycled material in play sets and he was very impressed. He also told me it was very well packaged and user friendly for assembly.

It looks first class and blends in well with the wooded area surrounding our church. We like the fact we can accommodate so many kids with a set this size.”

Bruce P.

Topeka, KS

“This is cooler than big kids stuff!”

5 Year Old Child

Topeka, KS

“Congratulations on your extensive and impressive exhibit of your playground products. I was most impressed. If I were a child, I would spend a lot of time in the music section of your marvelous array of enticing things to do. But on the other hand, I could easily be enticed to the many other play opportunities for play and learning.

It is blatantly obvious that you have put a lot of careful thought into developing your engaging products for children. Congratulations and thank you for the tour of your exhibit at the trade show.”

Matthew Evans, FASLA Senior Landscape Architect & Horticulturist

US Capitol, Washington, DC

“It gives me great pleasure to be able to write a letter on behalf of Play Mart, Inc. On two different occasions in recent years, Play Mart constructed playground equipment on our school property. Play Mart representatives went out of their way to meet with the school playground committee so that we fully understand our options and the cost. We have been delighted with the equipment that Play Mart representatives recommended for our students. It is age appropriate and safe. We have had to make two minor repairs, which were quickly taken care of by the company.
In the process building the playground, we were very interested in using recycled materials. Availability of this via Play Mart was a big reason why we choose this company. Play Mart worked with us in obtaining exactly what we wanted. We were very pleased with the construction timeline and the value for the price. When we wanted to add more equipment, Play Mart was most helpful and made the changes cost effective for us. Our students spend many happy hours enjoying the playground.

We have been very happy with the entire project. It is with great satisfaction I write this letter on behalf of the company and their employees.”

Sister Laverne K., School Principal

Newark, DE

“We continue to be so pleased with our playscape! As soon as we open the door in preparation for outside play, the children head straight for the playscape. The teachers so enjoy watching the students play some of their favorite games which include: Pirate Ship (they all crowd on top of the playscape sailing off for adventure of the high seas), Shark! (similar to pirate ship but they all stand on top screaming “shark”), and Ice cream shop (sellers stand under the playscape and deliver ice cream cones to customers on the other side of the ‘counter’).
We thank you again for working so closely with us as we designed this safe and sturdy play area to fit the needs of our Nursery School. It has been one year and it still looks great, blending beautifully into our historic town green. Both our school and our community look forward to many, many more years of fun!”

Laurie H., Daycare Director

Washington, CT

“Our entire church is excited with the equipment and especially glad we saved 32,226 milk jugs from a landfill. We love the look of wood without the problems of termites and splintering.”

Joyce W.

Jacksonville, AR

“I wanted to drop you a quick note to commend you on your subcontractor’s performance…The combination of your quality equipment and the installation by Hammer Down has provided the staff, children and Marine Corp with an excellent play facility. The installation and application of the equipment has turned out superbly.  Hammer Down, Paul and his entire crew were pleasant to work with, knowledgeable of the equipment and codes and had an uncommon willingness to work well with us and other contractors. I commend them for an excellent install and terrific attitude.

As for the poured in place rubber; again a superb product paired with a great subcontractor. Clean Play, Allen and his crew provided a level of work that would be hard to surpass. The installation went smoothly and quickly. I appreciate their attention to detail and cleanliness. Though we may have stayed late, I never have an issue doing that for a contractor that works as hard and diligently as they did each and every day. There performance was outstanding and one I would look forward to seeing again.

I appreciate all of your help and you providing us with such high quality subcontractors. Thank you.”

Mike R., Superintendent

Sauer, Inc.