Child Development: Outdoor Play
Whether it’s sunny, cloudy, windy or snowy, children love to play outside. At the beach, park, woodland or garden if you have one, children get the chance to stimulate all their senses, burn off lots of energy and use their imaginations.
Outside, children have space to take risks, explore and discover the natural world. As regular readers of this blog will know, we get out into nature as often as we can as a family, and in this blog post, we’ll share some ideas for encouraging children to switch off screens and play outside.
Visiting the same patch of land often and regularly will help children build up a relationship with it, giving the forest, heath or riverbank special significance. Watch as children give particular trees, big rocks and fields their own names, personalities and stories.
In a wide open space, children will run freely, throw sticks and balls, turn cartwheels and practice jumping. In a more closed in area, they will climb trees, build shelters, forts, dams and create a whole new world.
Give them the tools and equipment to make the most of these experiences by dressing them for the weather and landscape with overalls and raincoats or sunhats and thin long sleeves. When camping or in your garden hang our Swurfer swing or rig up a slackline. Give children real tools for carving and digging such as the Corvus range or BIOBU bucket.
Take things you find around the house outside into the garden to create a mud kitchen. This can be as simple as giving children a pile of bowls, pots, containers and utensils then standing back to watch. Before they start, make sure they know which leaves and flowers are okay to pick and mix and where a safe source of water is. Or better still, run a big bucket of fresh water for them to use.
Build a Den
Compile a box or basket of resources that can be used to build dens and tents such as sheets, scarfs, cushions, logs and stones.
The Name Game
Get an identification book, magnifying glass and sketchbook and together learn to name plants, creatures, trees, flowers and bugs. If you don’t know the name or can’t find it, talk about how the plant or bug looks, feels and sounds.
Take indoor activities out with you on picnics and walks, such as books to read and notebooks and pens. Spread out a blanket with some snacks and sit for a while.
Bring Nature Indoors
Always carry a bag with you to collect interesting stones, shells, leaves and seedpods for craft activities when you get back home. Here are some ideas:
Nature-Inspired Conscious Craft Ideas for Kids
More Ideas and Inspiration
50things.org.uk is a National Trust website aimed at children with 50 things to do before they are 113/4.