One of the key ingredients to growing strong, healthy, and resilient children time outdoors! It boosts moods and helps us all be kinder and calmer & now, more than ever are these health & well-being benefits a necessity.
We’ve put together a short list of three things that you can do outdoors in your backyard or any public are that has a little green space for you to explore & enjoy. Use these activities as a jumping off point for your next outdoor adventure.
Memory Scavenger Hunt:
Memory & exploration are the focus of this game as children search for matching nature items at their own pace.
Large box, tote or tub
Towel – big enough to cover the box
An assortment of items found in your yard – collect items that are identifiable & make sure there’s more than one so learners can find the match
Collect your items & place them in the box. Allow your learner to look carefully at each item for a short period of time then cover them up & have your learner head out to find matches in nature. Once your learner is done uncover your tote & compare items. As you compare the found items to the originals you can expand the learning by discussing the items, what they are & where they were found. Once you are done discussing have your learner place the items back where they were found for an extra memory exercise.
This activity is very adaptable for learners of all ages. You can adjust by collecting more items for older learners. We recommend starting with 3 to 5 items for toddlers, & up to 15 to 20 items for pre-teens & older learners – you can always add more as your learner’s skills improve.
Water is almost magical to young learners. A bottle of water & permission to explore & even make a mess are a perfect recipe for fun. Summer will be here before you know it & water fun is a great way to cool down on a hot afternoon.
Water tight container – we like clear containers like totes but you can use bowls, bottles, or dishpans
Nature & household items – small enough to fit in the water bottle & safe for water play
Fill your container with water & have your learner drop in the objects to text buoyancy & water displacement. Help your learner hypothesize about which items will float & which will sink, or what item will displace the most water. This is a great way to start learning about object mass & the principal of cause & effect. Don’t be afraid to try new objects or even throw in some dirt or sand to watch the layers settle in the bottom of the container. This is a great way to learn about sediment deposits & the weight of different types of soil.
You can also challenge your learner to use their nature materials & a bit of string, tape or hot glue to make a boat. Try different designs to test buoyancy & permeability.
Wide mouth bottles or jars with lids are a good option if you want to keep the water more contained but a big open container is the best way to get the most out of this activity. Just be prepared for water spillage with some extra towels for cleanup.
Art can come in all shapes & sizes, from building to painting to pattern making. Taking art outdoors gives your young learner a whole new canvas & a variety of non-traditional art supplies to stimulate their imagination & creativity.
Nature items – anything goes!
Small flower pot or other container
Have your learner collect nature items to make your own Fairy House. Anything goes for this activity so look for anything that may be useful – sticks, rocks, mud, etc. Once you have collected your items assemble them into a small house perfect for a fairy or a frog. Feeling ambitious? Make a nature house big enough for you!
Mud painting is also a terrific, & messy way to have a good time. Make your own mud in different consistencies & use it to paint your fairy house or sculpt decorations.
These activities are just a jumping off point to all kinds of outdoor nature fun. Don’t worry about following directions to the letter & allow your learner to set the tone & speed of play. Children are observant & can feel increased stress during this difficult time the same way adults can. Being active & involved is a great way to help the children in your life manage these difficult feelings.