Last month, we shared ten outdoor activity ideas, and we’re back today with ten more. These ideas support active play and provide rich, experience-based learning that engages children’s senses, enhances motor skills, and drives growth. Soak up what’s left of summer and head outside with children!
1. Make walks interactive by stopping and letting infants and toddlers touch and feel leaves, sticks, and tree bark. Bring a paper bag. Have the children bend down or reach up to get leaf specimens, sticks, and rocks to put into the bag.
2. Take a large sheet of paper with the children’s names and tally the number of times each child goes down the slide or runs around the tree. It’s not a contest as much as it is a way to motivate.
3. Hang paper plates from a tree branch just above the children’s heads. Encourage the children to jump and touch the plates. Fill spray bottles with water and let them squirt the plates to make them twirl.
4. Bury shells, toy dinosaurs, colored rocks, large marbles, or pennies in the sandbox. Children can dig like archaeologists searching for buried treasures.
5. Go on movement walks with everyone taking baby steps, giant steps, hopping over sidewalk cracks, or jumping with feet together past a tree. Crouch down and walk, walk on tiptoe, or pretend to skate as you proceed.
6. Make tree bark rubbings with pencil or crayons and paper.
7. Erect a tent in one area of the outdoor play space. Establish a rotational system that gives fifteen minutes of play in the tent to a small group of children. Use a large appliance box as a camper.
8. Lie in the grass and gaze at the sky. Let each child describe the images he sees.
9. Play music and invite children to dance in a safe, grassy area.
10. Add water to soil or sand to change the play. It is messy, but it helps young children develop large and small arm and hand muscles and hand-eye coordination.
Find more ideas like these in Building Brains, a resource filled with more than 600 activity ideas to support crucial early brain development in infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.