From eating meals alfresco to enjoying lazy park hangs and playing with neighbourhood friends until the street lights come on – the warm weather is all about embracing the outdoors.
Outdoor time has many benefits for children. It develops an appreciation for nature and the earth, encourages kids to step outside of their comfort zone and take risks, enhances creative thinking skills and develops their gross motor skills as well as language development.
And, it feels great to be outside having fun! The nice thing is, I always find my little ones are extra tired after a day outside (and good sleep is good for everyone!)
There are many learning opportunities for kids that exist right in your own backyard. Here are just a few.
Outdoor Activities & Toys to Help Promote Learning & Development
Sensory & Vocabulary:
Providing opportunities for your children to explore the garden can help enhance their critical thinking skills (questioning why things happen and testing out cause and effect) and provide a new sensory experience that develops their vocabulary.
The My First Backyard Explorer Kit allows you to turn your backyard into a lab for your budding scientist. This kit has all the tools and activity ideas you need for different backyard science experiments.
The Garbage to Garden Compost Kit gives your kids first-hand experience with composting, allowing them to watch it happen with their own eyes – a great introduction to environmental science.
The Mini Bug Vacuum makes collecting bugs fun and the built-in magnifying glass allows your little to observe their new friend up close.
Creativity & Imagination:
Sidewalk chalk is one of my most favourite outdoor activities to do with my kids. Chalk can engage a variety of different age groups. The Sidewalk Chalk Activity Book provides tons of fun games like tick tack toe, hopscotch and obstacle course challenges that kids love.
Imaginative play encourages learning – through role-playing kids have the opportunity to experiment with decision making, practice different social skills and develop language. Providing your children with the pretend version of an outdoor tool you use can encourage them to mimic the activities that they see you doing. My favourite is the Gas and Go Mower – so you can have a mini-me keeping you company (and learning) while you cut the grass.
Gross Motor Skills:
The OgoSport – OgoDisk-Mezo has multiple uses and is good for varying skill levels. Kids can use it for a game of catch, keep up or frisbee – all games that improve hand-eye coordination.
The Mini Micro Scooter is THE best mode of transportation for children aged 2-7 years old. Its design makes it simple for young children to use, and it teaches balance and focus skills. Plus it grows with your child meaning you will get many summers of enjoyment out of it!
And never underestimate the value of a family walk. This simple activity helps create an appreciation for the outdoors, an opportunity for families to connect while doing physical activity and provides many natural learning opportunities. To work on language development while walking with your kids talk about the flowers you see – discuss their colour and describe their scent.
You can also practice counting with your child – count the squirrels or light posts that you walk by. Let your child be the leader and plan and navigate the walk – this provides a wonderful opportunity for kids to practice their autonomy and independence.
Happy summer – get outside and enjoy!