We all know that kids benefit from the fresh air and freedom that outdoor play gives them but outside play should be about so much more than space and children developing their physical skills. By providing good quality outdoor activities for kids we can easily promote all areas of development and learning.
Quality outdoor play doesn’t mean spending loads of money on new toys it’s about using what you’ve got wisely, giving kids the opportunity for hands on engagement with nature and spending quality time together.
Here are 5 easy ideas to make the most of outdoor play and provide a great range of learning opportunities right here, right now, today!
1. Outdoor Activities For Kids – Take The Inside Out!
There are lots of toys and activities that we traditionally think of as inside play ideas but they can work equally well outside too. Taking your child’s inside toys outside can often spark a child’s imagination and rekindle an enthusiasm for those toys as they explore the new play opportunities that the unusual surroundings offer them.
Children will often find new and exciting ways to play with something familiar in its new outdoor environment. For example, taking a toy tea set outside might lead to making pretend salads with cut grass, dandelion soup or mud pies. How much more scope is there for a child’s imagination and exploration to blossom here as they use what’s around them to make their play food rather than using the shop bought play fruit and the such like? The benefits of outdoor activities are enormous.
You can experiment with taking any traditionally indoor toy or activity outside and here are a few ideas to get you started.
- tea sets, toy cookers, pots and pans.
- Small world play such as Playmobil and Sylvanean Families
- Toy dinosaurs
- Cars and trucks
- Art supplies
- Building blocks
2. Let’s Be Quiet – Outside Play Isn’t Just Physical!
We often find quite and cosy space inside the house as a matter of course and it’s worthwhile providing outdoor activities for kids like this too.
Take a blanket and cushions or quilt outside to provide a comfortable space to encourage quieter, calmer outside play. If the weather’s hot then why not create your quiet space under a parasol, the shade of a tree or hang a length of fabric to make a cool sanctuary.
A quiet outside area is a great place to enjoy time to chat, time to listen to each other and the wonderful sounds of nature around us. You could take some books or musical instruments outside and enjoy sharing music and rhymes. Or why not try taking out traditional table top toys like board games and jigsaw puzzles?
3. Let’s Do Messy Outside Activities!
There are loads of messy outdoor activities for kids that are so much fun. They provide fantastic sensory experiences and an avenue for children to explore their creativity and self expression too.
There’s the obvious sand and water play that we often think of as outside activities for kids but why not stretch that experience with some mud and water play and the opportunity to get really hands on with nature? You don’t need a fancy big ‘mud kitchen’ and equipment; a little corner of ground where kids can dig and pour water can provide hours of fun and learning.
Kids can enjoy drawing in mud or building with mud as they do in sand play. We can give them some pots and spoons to make mud pies and magic potions. Let them cut some grass and pick off some leaves to enjoy imaginative play making cakes and bakers shops. Let them look closely at and gently handle the worms and insects that come to say ‘Hello’. It’s amazing what ideas children will come up with when they are allowed to get really hands on with messy play.
4. Encourage BIG Construction With Free Range Materials
We often have small construction toys within the home like lego and building blocks. Why not make the most of the outside space to encourage and stretch your kids’ problem solving and creativity with BIG construction ideas. By providing a selection of “free range” materials kids have no preconceived ideas about what should be created and their imaginations will soar. Maybe they’ll build dens, space rockets, obstacles courses, you’ll be amazed by the ideas they can come up with given a few simple materials.
Here are a few suggestions of free range materials to get you started:
- Cardboard boxes – great for tunnels, cars, play houses, caves.
- Sheets of old fabric
- Wooden sticks and logs
- Old tyres
- Planks of wood
- Bamboo canes
Kids will enjoy the challenge of creating things themselves and you can expect to see lots of experimenting, trial and error, learning and decision making as they construct their obstacle course, their secret den or their dragon’s lair with bits of wood, planks, logs or any other materials you’ve put to hand. (Be on standby to offer support when needed and to check the safety of anything they make.)
5. Outdoor Activities For Kids Whatever The Weather
Let’s enjoy our yards and gardens all year round. Yes it’s easier to enjoy outdoor play in the Summer months but dress appropriately for all weathers and your kids can enjoy outdoor play all year round. Children will benefit enormously from the sensory, creative and learning experiences all the seasons can offer.
- Make sure the outdoor space is secure and safe.
- Don’t leave your kids unsupervised.
- Make sure you can see your child and if you have a large group of children ask several adults to help.
- Set ground rules appropriate for the age and stage of the children.
We all have experience of how good it feels to get outside and touch base with nature or take part in sports and exercise. Kids feel this too and they learn so much and develop so many skills enjoying the challenge and freedom from outdoor play. We hope you will share the pleasure of quality outdoor play with your children and enjoy it as much as we do.
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