Outdoor activities

Time to be outside but still work on your cognitive skills!

In this section we propose you a list of activities you can do outdoors, individually or in pairs or in a group.

1. The shopping list

UNIT: Working memory

OBJECTIVES: Organization skills support

TIME NEEDED: Minimum 5 minutes to focus on the shopping list, and then the time to go to the supermarket and then at least 5 more minutes to check if you have bought everything.

MATERIALS: Pen and paper to write the shopping list.

INSTRUCTIONS: This exercise consists of a few progressive steps:

  1. Write a shopping list on a sheet of paper. The items could be anything you want to ‘buy’ from a store. about 10 names of items are enough to start with.
  2. Mentally photograph everything you need in a single shot, in the place where it is normally stored in your home.
  3. Take a good look at your list and the image you created in your head in the previous step. Take time to studying it and memorizing it.
  4. Go to the store place without having the list with you and buy everything that was written. Try to remember as many objects as possible.
  5. Return home and check how it went by checking your list.

2. Physical exercises

UNIT: Cognitive Flexibility

OBJECTIVES: Physical exercise triggers the release of neurotransmitters and endorphins that modify the structure of the brain. A series of quick physical exercises or movements like hand gestures will help your body wake up so your brain is better able to focus.

TIME NEEDED: You can exercise as long as you want and need to. Try to do at least 10 minutes and for more challenge you can use a timer too.

MATERIALS: You do not need any equipment, but you can definitely add props to help you do the exercises. Using some motivational music or following a video with exercises it can work very well too! Check this video for instance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCpiteBel8E&list=PLeLKgqctCxkoJx8w6cEjKf5AUk9_aVUfW&index=18

INSTRUCTIONS: Exercises do not have to be rigorous. For example, moderate aerobic exercise is sufficient to reap the benefits and improve cognitive flexibility. You can try any kind of physical activity individually or in a form of a game played with more than one person or in teams.

3. The Freeze game

UNIT: Inhibitory Control

OBJECTIVES: The goal of this exercise is to develop the ability for self-regulation.

TIME NEEDED: Between 20 and 30 minutes.

MATERIALS: Music system. A playlist with parts of songs that you like, alternating songs with fast and with slow tempo.

INSTRUCTIONS: The exercise can be done with the help of a friend, parent or teacher who can play and pause the music. You can also do the exercise alone if you organize the song playlist, so that every two minutes the song stops, followed by a couple of seconds of silence then another song begins with a different tempo, again a silent pause and a new song, etc. 

  1. Begin to dance when the music starts to play. Dance with the rhythm of the song – if the song is fast, dance fast, if it is slow – dance slow.
  2. Freeze when the music stops and do not move your body until the music begins to play again.
  3. Continue to dance, when the music begins to play and follow the rhythm of the new song.
  4. When you feel that you are beginning to cope, make the task more difficult by dancing slowly when the music is fast, and dancing fast when the music is slow. Again, every time the music stops, freeze in one place, and do not move until it begins again.

4. Ideas for Group games

UNIT: Shift of Attention

OBJECTIVES: To help in training your attention by having some oral instructions. A quick game of “Simon Says” or “Follow the Leader” or “Jacques a dit” will get you and your friends moving — and help work on focus and listening comprehension. These exercises build impulse control, observation, imitation skills, and emotional regulation.


INSTRUCTIONS: Participants must listen carefully when the leader gives an “order”, and they should follow. When someone gets mixed up with several actions, the game ends and a new leader must take place and restart. You will need to follow the leader’s directions and movements, or orders – depending on the game.

Example like the “Little goldfish” (Petit poisson rouge) game, where the leader gives permission to specific players to advance (move forward) only if they are wearing for example something blue, green, etc.