The Great Outdoors Is The World’s Best Classroom

Today’s guest post was provided by TurfMutt, a free educational curriculum for children K-5 led by Lucky, a real-life rescue dog. He encourages them to protect the land and appreciate natural surroundings in their own community.

With Earth Day right around the corner, I thought their ideas for getting your kids involved in learning more about their environment were pretty cool, and I’m glad they shared these tips!



With children spending seven and a half hours with media devices every day, it’s sometimes a challenge to gently guide them outdoors. But a world awaits them once they do manage to step foot outside.

One way to get some fresh air while teaching kids responsibility is to make yard work fun. TurfMutt, the web portal for green tips in a brown world, offers a wide array of age-appropriate activities through its Discovery Education program. Below are a few simple ideas to make outdoor learning a joy.

For preschool children:

Plant bulbs. Have your child place the bulbs in the appropriate holes you dig. Make sure you have a small watering can at hand so your child can water the bulb too.

Collect debris. Little sticks, smaller branches or even last year’s leaves are easy things for your child to collect in a basket while you clean away the larger brush that may have accumulated over the winter.

Play the worm game. See how many worms you can find in your yard.

For elementary school children:

Spread seeds. Ask your child to help you spread grass seed with a seed spreader or, for smaller patches, by hand.

Water carefully. In the event rain isn’t in the forecast, get out the hose to water the newly planted grass seed. Be sure not to overwater your lawn, however. It’s always best to water in the early morning or in the evening, especially in summer.

Race to the finish line. Taking care of your garden tools is as important as caring for the garden itself. See how fast you can recoil the hose after use.

For middle and high school children:

Work together. Early spring is a great time to prune certain shrubs. Ask your teenager to help recycle the greenery you cut by bundling them into stacks to be hauled away, used as firewood or composted.

Get creative. After planting grass seed, engage the entire family in a craft project to ensure the birds don’t eat the grass seeds you just planted  Get some sticks, cardboard, tinfoil, a hole punch and some string to make flashy ‘scarecrows’ you will later stick in the ground to ward off hungry birds and the temptation to play Angry Birds instead.


About TurfMutt:

A committed supporter of animal rescue and rehabilitation, Kris Kiser, CEO and President of OPEI, spearheaded the development of the TurfMutt educational curriculum with Discovery Education. The TurfMutt youth curriculum promotes environmental stewardship of everyday personal and community space through a “spokesdog” named Lucky, a real rescue dog and the face of the program.


  1. I would love to get some little kids to clean up the sticks off my property. LOL. All great ideas, but unfortunately, mine are old enough (14+) to know that when I try to turn this work into a fun game or activity, they’re onto me. LOL.

  2. I love the breakdown of what to do for each age group. Planting bulbs with the boys would be fun!

  3. Great ideas for any child to get involved and to get outside more.

  4. Great tips on how to get kids involved with yard work.

  5. I can’t wait to have kids – these are such fun ideas to get them involved! We’re lucky enough to have a large backyard, so I’m looking forward to trying these out when the time comes 🙂

  6. Our babies were born prematurely last fall, so we have been sitting indoors for 6 months. I am DYING to get outside wit the kids. They are still babies, so our activities will be mostly just lying in the grass on a blanket or going for walks, but we still point things out to them and let them touch the trees, plants, and pinecones. Its awesome. My cousin goes for walks with her toddler, and brings a little bucket. He can pick things up along their walk and put it in the bucket. Leaves, pieces of grass, sticks, etc. And they talk about everything. I love it.

  7. Great ideas and I agree having them separated to age groups helps figure out what are good ideas for that age. Outside time is something we don’t often take as much advantage of, but hoping once the weather gets on target we will be able to get a lot of yard work done.

  8. WE LOVE to play outside! Esp when the weather permits! Can’t wait to get back outside next week when the rain goes away! Thanks for the fun tips

  9. Cute ideas! I think we’ll do that this weekend! My kids love to play in the dirt outside!

  10. Bub loves planting and watering! Thanks for ways to get a little more fun in it!

  11. Great ideas! I love the rescue dogs too. My kids love to be outdoors and help in our yard, my moms yard – and I was thinking about getting them involved in helping in some of the elders yards around our community. Wonder how I could use this idea to support that service!

  12. I totally agree! Our kids are getting so excited about spring-we plant trees every earth day and have already started some seeds indoors. So fun to watch them get excited about growing things!

  13. What great tips. My kids love picking up sticks. They think that it’s a fun game.

  14. Great ideas. I am hoping to do a lot of activities with my kids this spring and summer. My 2.5 yr old will love helping me plant flowers and veggies in my container gardens.

  15. Great post! I’m glad you have ideas for different age ranges.

  16. This is a great article!!my toddler just helped me plant some flowers last week and he helps me water them now:) its very fun!

  17. I love she separated for the different age ranges. We love the outdoors and our son absolutely loves digging anything so he loves planting bulbs and flowers. We are working on how to be gentle and I think it teaches them so valuable lessons

  18. Thanks for the ideas!

  19. Brittney D says:

    Great ideas! We’ll have to try them out with our 4 year old… I bet she’d be great at getting all the sticks out of our yard haha! Sometimes I forget that I don’t have to do EVERYTHING when it comes to house and yard work… there are other hands to help too 🙂

  20. beth carbone says:

    i love TurfMutt- too cute!! great ideas- i can’t wait to get our raised beds made so my 17-month old can help me plant seeds.. and water! he loves watering! 😀 he also loves digging holes 🙂 i talk to my son about nature when we’re outside & how things work- i know he doesn’t necessarily ‘understand’, but it really blows me away how much he *does* understand!! i figure it can’t hurt 🙂 he loves throwing seed out for the birds to eat, too, and we did find a worm in the yard after a nice rain earlier this week!! he loved it… he kept saying ‘wrrrr’ and going over to check it out 🙂 i eventually moved the poor thing over to our strawberry plant to keep it safe from prying toddlers and puppies! 😉

  21. Kelli A. says:

    Great ideas for the kids! I try to get my kids outside when the weather cooperates all the time. One thing we are doing this year is planting our own veggie garden, I did cherry tomatoes in a planter last year and my oldest son loved the idea of planting the seeds and when they were ready picking the tomatoes. So this years plan is to really get both my boys involved with the whole process and learning to take care of the garden.

  22. Stephanie Huff says:

    When I was in school we were very lucky to be able to take all sorts of field trips from the time I was in elementary. It wonderful knowing that alot more schools are creating their own FOREST right on the school grounds. I know I was raised to love nature and so were my children from the time they were mere months old. I can remember having my ex husband pull over at the beach so I could put our 2 month olds feet in the sand! I had them babies out by the time they could sit up at 5 months with their bare feet even in early spring with hoodies on. They loved feeling the grass with their toes and grasping at it to feel the texture. It’s a wonderful experience for a child to not wear shoes most of the day and to get the “naked” feel for nature!

  23. Thanks for sharing, my toddler will love this!

  24. Rebecca Schulz says:

    very cool ideas, can’t wait until my little dude is old enough to do them!

  25. Summer C says:

    So true, I can’t wait for my 2 year old to finally get to the age where he doesn’t just run a muck the second we get outside so we can start doing things like exploring bugs and plants.

  26. orlando scooter rentals says:

    It is definitely wonderful to learn anything that grows. Hard work can teach children become responsible adults later on.


  27. Great suggestions! Thankfully I have no problem getting my kids outside most of the time – they just love it & so do I.

  28. I Love this Post!!! I love when parents get children involved with things, great way for them to interact and learn!!! My 4yr old and I just planted flowers 2 days ago together… GREAT Activity!!!

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