With toddlers spending even more time using TVs and iPads – outdoor play is even more important for your child’s development. From helping them explore their surroundings to learning about nature, gaining confidence and improving social skills – playing games in the garden and having fun at the park can benefit your child in more ways than just having fun!
If children don’t have the desire to go out, play and be active, there’s ways you can encourage them outdoors. Come up with a plan and most importantly, stick to it. Here are just some of the benefits of outdoor play as well as some ideas for you to get the kids to try:
1. Exploring creativity with outdoor adventures
Playing outdoors is a great way to encourage children’s creativity. Kids’ imaginations are often stimulated by things around them so being outdoors provides new and exciting surroundings to tap into their creativity. Whether it’s going on ‘bear hunts’ in the garden or collecting leaves and sticks in the forest to create pretty artwork, there’s no limit to adventure when you’re outdoors.
Creating art from nature
Those leaves that you’ve collected can be painted and pressed onto plain paper to create cool leaf prints. The sticks and other leaves can be glued on too. We’re not talking Picasso here, but knowing that they can create art from foraged items is a great thing for kids; it expands their creativity and opens them up to new possibilities. Just make sure you’re scavenging in safe surroundings.
Outdoor scavenger hunts
If chocolate is their favourite treat, how about setting up a chocolate hunt for them? All you’ll need is a few small chocolate bars of chocolate eggs (wrapped of course!). Hide them in safe places – under the slide, in the ball pool and in plant pots are all great options. Just make sure you pick a dry day, else you’ll have soggy chocolate wrappers…and kids! Surely hunting for chocolate is a much more fun way to appreciate the sweet treat than simply being given it straight from the kitchen cupboard?
2. Outdoor learning for kids
From searching for wildlife to identifying different trees and plants in the garden, your little slice of the great outdoors has so many opportunities for little ones to learn from. How about getting them to plant some flowers or homegrown veg? They’ll love watching them grow.
Planting flowers with kids
Get them green fingered early and teach them how plants grow with some easy seed planting. Simply get them to dig away at soft soil using our plastic garden scoop, and then sprinkle in the seeds. Or if you have a plant that needs potting out, get them to safely dig out a small hole in the ground and gently push in the plant. If you have a small concrete courtyard with no ground to dig up, a grow bag will do the trick. Just remember to put some holes in the bottom of the bag for drainage if the plants your growing need it.
Wildlife watching with kids
How about getting the kids to document what they see through art? This could be drawing a bird they haven’t seen before or even insects and butterflies. Just pick a dry day and head outside with paper and colouring pencils. Drawing what they see is a great way for kids to learn – and you’ll both be getting some fresh air while you’re at it.
Take a look at our art supplies for more inspiration.
3. Outdoor toys and garden games
Kids’ garden toys don’t have to be expensive. Instead of playing ball games on the computer, get them outside playing for real. You can’t beat a game of football or bat and ball in the garden. And if it’s really warming up outside, why not play throw and catch with some water balloons! It’s perfect summertime outdoor play.