Why Active Learning is Good for Children

Why Active Learning is Good for Children

By Rob Cassidy


With more technology than ever at their disposal, teachers can create fun and creative lessons via the Internet to keep children engaged. From interactive whiteboards to iPads, the amount of resources available in schools is growing and there is a wealth of online resources to complement that too.

However, this should not be at the expense of active learning and in particular activities outdoors that helps to keep children active and also helps them to understand the world around them. And here is why:

·         Studies have shown that active learning can help students remember more

·         Active learning helps to build key skills

·         It can promote healthy learning and encourage youngsters to spend more time outdoors

What is active learning?

Active learning is the use of techniques to get children involved in lessons whether it is letting them investigate and explore ideas, show and tell, or through play. It is understandably more associated with Physical Education with children having time outdoors, however, there are many examples of where active learning can stimulate and encourage children in other subject areas within the curriculum.

How lessons can use active learning outdoors

Understandably, a lot of outdoor activities are heavily reliant on the British weather being kind. But even when it isn’t, you can still use this to your advantage. Not only does active learning encourage individual participation but it can also encourage children to work in teams, collaborate to answer problems/solve tasks, and also build communication skills in terms of listening and talking. These are many of the key skills that will go on to benefit them later on in life, whether it is further education, career prospects or everyday life. Some of these lessons can be easily adaptable to do at as part of home-based learning too that parents can get involved in. Here are some examples of how lessons could be adapted in key core subject areas:


When the temperature gets warmer, pupils can be taken outside to read books as a group. They can take it in turns to act as characters in the book or even read paragraphs from the book. All students can be further included by asking them questions about the book. Future lessons can then recap what happened previously or a small quiz can be compiled to test their knowledge. 

In terms of helping with pupils learning spelling, write out correct and incorrect spellings of words on A3 paper which can then be laid on the ground in the playground. Kids take it in turns to throw beanbags at the spelling they think is correct. Or you can ask them all to move towards the spelling they think is correct. Words that pupils struggle with can then be used in the future when doing more spelling-related tasks.


With maths, tasks could involve laying out different calculations on paper with different movements. For example: from the starting position at one side of the playground, children are told to walk forward five steps. The next sheet of paper then says to multiply the number of steps taken by 2 and this is the number of skips they should do to the next sheet. The answer should be shouted out at each step and if it is correct they move on. If incorrect, they are out of the game that round. Substitute correct answers for the next pupil participating.

This could be turned into a team game by having a tag race. Pupils are split up into groups of four or five. Each team are given a pen board and pens in their group. The teacher organises each team member in which order they will go up and do the activity. When at each sum, the pupil reads out what it is to his or her team. The rest of their team members then work together in a team to calculate the answer and write down what they think it is on the pen board. If they are correct, their team member moves forward to the next task. If not, they stop where they are and the other teams can move forward in front of them. When they reach the end, the person goes and tags the next person up and they come back in the opposite direction. The sums are turned over or replaced by new ones to ensure they give different answers. The process then repeats until one team gets their entire team through the process to the end. Sums can get more advanced with different age groups.


Trees and plants offer teachers the opportunity to explain about germination, different types of plants, how sunlight affects plants and more. Teachers can also encourage youngsters to grow their own plants either inside the classroom at home to get them to record their findings and study.

Weather is one such subject area that can be great to teach kids and you could get them to undertake tasks involving different types of weather (for instance measuring rainfall) and recording this for a month. This will allow teachers to explain seasonality, what happens in different seasons and why weather occurs as it does.

Active learning can be used in any number of different ways in fun, safe and inclusive ways. By offering opportunities for children to work together or do things outside of a classroom environment, it can help to increase knowledge and enjoyment away from the indoor environment.

Rob Cassidy is the Marketing Manager at Canopies UK
For more information: 



1.       ‘2 kids at a 2Touch IWB in Melbourne 1’ by Pablo Garcia licensed under Creative Commons license CC BY 2.0

2.       ‘Bakewell C of E Infant School – Bath Street, Bakewell’ by Elliott Brown licensed under Creative Commons license CC BY-SA 2.0

3.       ‘Story Time’ by Dave Parker licensed under Creative Commons license CC BY 2.0

4.       ‘Spring’ by Bill Tyne licensed under Creative Commons license CC BY-SA 2.0


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