This post has some ideas for loose parts outdoor academic learning and fun in the sun. I have recently taken some online classes about the Reggio learning method. I also read the book Loose Parts Inspiring Play in Young Children by Beloglovsky and Daly. Because we live in the land of loose parts in Grand Marais, MN, lessons and activities were fairly easy to prepare. This is a picture of where we live as taken from my brother-in-law’s small plane. The boreal forest we live in provides many wonderful learning opportunities. Please scroll down for the new free printable. 

Build Numbers Outside with Loose Parts Free PDF

When the dandelions appear each spring (hey, it is May 22nd and the tulips are blooming, spring has a slow start around here) the fiddleheads also appear. Did you know you can forage for and eat fiddleheads? Along with ramps and morel mushrooms from the forest delicious meals can be prepared. Much care must be taken when finding food in the forest, especially with mushrooms, of course.

Build Numbers Outside with Loose Parts


So, naturally, f is for fiddleheads, flowers, and ferns growing in our yard.


My husband was kind enough to make us alphabet and math “cookies” or slides of dead trees which we have plenty of around here. We have so many fallen trees on our 7 acres.

Dead trees are nursery logs and help the forest regrow. The hard winters, living on a hill, and insects such as gypsy moths have really been difficult for many of the trees. This does, however, provide for learning opportunities. Here is our alphabet scavenger hunt, although this early in the spring much of the alphabet cannot be found — it is fun anyway. We can make our own “creative” alphabet, of course.

alphabet hunting in the forest

Outdoor Math

Math is also fun outside! This activity used rocks and craft sticks. Real sticks may be used but they didn’t show up so well in the photo. We live near Lake Superior so we have very rocky soil. The rocks are basalt and quite dark.


Base 10 numbers are also possible to practice outside.


A little 2D geometry, anyone? The children could practice the difference between regular and irregular polygons, as well.


What is better than fresh air, sunshine, and outside learning with tree cookies?


Outdoor Art

Adults can also create landscapes with loose parts, as did Senator Chuck Wiger. “There’s tens and thousands of rocks and flowers.” See a video of this display on his property at this link. great-outdoors-pieces-of-nature-create-pictureperfect-landscape

Somethings have to be learned outside, like rainbows can follow rain.


Mr. Owl likes to be outside! At least, there are no real owls in my house.


He even likes commuting to school by being outside.


Free Printable

Finally, here is the new free printable for counting and building numbers outside.


You might also like my book review of Loose Parts Inspiring Play in Young Children informational blog post.

Go outside and learn! Well, you can also play when there. Thank you for reading, Carolyn


You might also like: outside around the house math activities with an Olympic theme.