Child Development: Outdoor Play image

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.

Mud Kitchen

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

Nature Paint Brushes

Bird House Nesting Box

Teasel Hedgehog

Tribal Stick Crown

Nature-Inspired Summer Crown

Nature-Inspired Creepy Crawlies

Nature Masks

Flower Peg Doll

More Ideas and Inspiration

Fiona Danks and Jo Schofield have written a range of books and website with plenty of natural activities for the whole family to get involved with. is a National Trust website aimed at children with 50 things to do before they are 113/4.

The National Allotments SocietyWoodland Trust and The Wildlife Trust all have plenty of information and ideas to inspire you and your children to get out and about.


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