Here at Sprout Early Education Center, we know that unstructured play is so important for the physical, social, emotional, and cognitive development of our children. There are also many benefits to spending time outdoors for kids and parents alike, such as improved focus, decreased inflammation, and even better immunity.
Fortunately, you don’t have to go to a national park to gain the benefits of outdoor play. Whether you have a small patio or acres of property, you can give your kids the opportunity to play outdoors. Here are some 5 simple nature play activities you can do in your own backyard:
Set aside a patch of yard or a container of dirt and sand for kids to dig in, run toy cars through, or build structures.
You don’t need a fancy water table. Just provide some different size containers (clean food containers are great for this!), have some extra clothes handy, and let them go to town. You can also let kids “help” with watering any houseplants or gardens you may have. (Make sure the plants can tolerate extra water!)
Kids can watch seeds sprout and grow over time! Planting seeds in clear glass jars allows children to see the roots and shoots of plants emerging from the seeds. They can check on the plants each day and draw or write down the changes they observe.
Plastic magnifying glasses are inexpensive tools that can provide hours of entertainment. Use them to investigate different textures and animals outside.
Treasure Hunts and Collections
Make a short, simple list of items or animals to find outside: a rock smaller than their hand, something shiny, something blue, etc. You can also start a collection of small nature objects like shells or rocks that kids can add to as they visit other outdoor places. (Just make sure to check any regulations at state parks and other public property.)
There are many other nature play activities you can do with your children at home, your local park, or even on vacation. Starting in your own backyard will give them frequent opportunities for outdoor nature play and help them get comfortable outdoors. Let us know your favorite outdoor activities in the comments!