Getting children to play outside
Some children just love the great outdoors. Playing in the mud, climbing trees and collecting nature. However, there are also other children that may need a little more persuasion to get them outside.
Being outdoors has numerous benefits for children. It enables them to explore their senses further, get fresh air and sunshine, which is essential for vitamin D. It will also give your child the opportunity to explore their natural environment with hands on learning.
In this post were going to share some of the activities that could help influence your little ones to get outside and enjoy nature.
1. Sensory scavenger hunt
To set up this activity start by listing a collection of items that you can easily find outdoors. Obviously, these may vary based on where you live and what time of year it is. Some of the items you could list might include dandelions, acorns, feathers or ladybirds.
To make the scavenger hunt a little more challenging and exciting, instead of specifically listing the items to be found, you could ask for certain characteristics of the items instead. These might include descriptions such as:
- Something smooth…
- Something soft…
- Something round…
- Something yellow…
- Something cold…
This gets children engaged with their senses whilst hunting for nature. You can either create a simple list in a table and include images of items for your children to find, or even tape down examples of the items listed onto a piece of paper for them.
When giving the children the characteristics of the objects to find, you could write these down on a piece of paper, and leave it on a surface outside for them to collect the items onto that match.
Another great idea is to use small canvas bags, like the reusable ones for fruit and vegatable shopping, or even an empty egg carton, and then write the characteristic of the objects to find on the container.
They can then fill their containers with the nature they find that matches this characteristic on their scavenger hunt.
2. Nature bingo
All you need is a simple 5 x 5 grid filled with pictures of things you can find in nature with your child. The next time you go out exploring, take one with you and get them to try and find either 5 across or 5 down of items. Get them exploring and looking out for things on their nature bingo sheet by asking them about what their looking for, and suggesting places to search for items, like under rocks for worms, or on a plant for spiderwebs.
If your running a bit short on time, why not download our free nature bingo sheet below!
3. Be explorers - make a map and treasure hunt
If your planning a family outing and would like to get your children more excited, you could create a map for them to follow of the area. Why not turn it into an adventure by making the map look really old, and even create a treasure hunt!
We all remember making those old looking maps when we were little. Well, with a little forward planning, you could map out a route for your walk and draw it up onto a piece of A4 paper. You can make the paper look old by staining it yellow with a teabag dipped in water, and even by (carefully!) burning the edges.
Crumpling it up, and then flattening it out again also adds to the ‘ye olde’ feel! To get more instructions on how to make an awesome old looking map for your little ones on your next family excursion, or just for a backyard treasure hunt, check out this YouTube video by 6th Gear Garage where a Dad does exactly that!
Map making and treasure hunt!
4. Chalk drawings
If you’ve got a patio area or a wall, this is a great way to let their inner artist out whilst outdoors. Don’t ask why, but getting to draw outside on a larger ‘canvas’ and having a bit of freedom with their art just makes drawing more fun. It doesn’t always have to be crayons at the table!
Why not join in with them? You know you want to! You could draw a hopscotch, create your family tree, or draw some leaves, bugs and pieces of nature that you find around the garden.
5. Create an obstacle course
This is a great way to get your children active outside and encourage gross moto skills. You can have them help find the equipment and set up a course to be completed. This gives them some control and allows them to plan the activity.
Items you could use for your obstacle course might include either play equipment you already have outside or small items you can move around to create the course. If you’re feeling up to it, you could even combine the two to make an even bigger challenge!
You could include any of the following:
- Skipping ropes to mark out paths as well as skipping sections
- Cones to mark sections
- Play tunnels to crawl through
- Slides to go down
- Bridges to travel over
- Hula hoops to hop over, hula or skip with
6. Make potions and mud pies
This one has to be one of the favourites. If you don’t mind your children getting a little (or very) messy. All you need is some kitchen utensils, such as metal saucepans, bowls and spoons to get started.
Setting up a potion mixing bench or activity table is also a great idea to give your children somewhere they can get nice and messy, (rather than the new patio furniture that’s only been used for one summer BBQ)!
We’d love to hear of the great outdoor activities you do with your child. If you have a good activity, please share it by leaving a comment below.
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