Updated: Jan 9
Outdoor Play Fun in the Garden
As the weather continues to improve there is nothing better than getting your children outdoors during Lockdown. However, it can be tricky to constantly come up with new ideas to offer your children to keep them entertained outdoors. With 10 years experience of working with children I have lots of ideas of fun and cheap outdoor activities for you to try at home.
It does not matter what size garden you have, your child will still benefit from outdoor learning experiences, you can even use your local park.
Outdoor Play Promotes Physical Development
There are so many learning and development benefits to letting your child engage in outdoor play. Your child’s physical development will benefit from outdoor exploration as your child will use hand-eye co-ordination. Outdoor play also strengthens their physical development in terms of gross motor skills (large movements) and fine motor skills (small movements e.g. the fingers).
Outdoor play also helps to promote early Mathematics as your child will be learning about the properties of different materials and developing their knowledge of concepts such as size and shape. Your child can develop trial and error through seeing what they can and cannot do with the objects. It also helps your child to engage in problem solving skills as they are discovering things for themselves.
Here are 10 of my favourite outdoor low cost play activities which you can do at home in the garden or in an outdoor area:
1. Paint Brushes and Water
Let your children go around the garden painting different surfaces with different sized paint brushes, rollers and water.
2. Animal Shadows
Pick some of your children’s favourite plastic animals / dinosaurs and sit them in the sun and put paper next to them so your children can draw around the shadow of the figure.
3. Nature Hunt
Create a Nature Hunt Sheet and then ask your children to go on a hunt around the garden or the park to find the items on the sheet. Then you could extend this activity by getting your children to make a collage / piece of art out of what they have collected.
4. Magic Potions
Save plastic bottles and then get your children to collect petals, seeds, grass and leaves on a walk or around the garden, and then mix together in a bowl with a small amount of water, for colour you could add food colouring, then get a funnel and help them tip the mixture into the bottle. To extend the activity you could get your children to design a label for the bottle and devise a name for their potion.
5. Paddling Pool Painting
Inflate a paddling pool, put paper in the bottom, add balls of different sizes and paint. Let your children explore and make a pattern on the paper by moving the balls around.
6. Nature Paint Brushes
Collect sticks of different lengths and thickness, then help your children to collect different materials to add to the end of the stick to provide a bristle for the brush e.g. leaves, flower heads, herbs, pieces of tree e.g. fern / conifer. Use an elastic band to attach it to the stick. Then let your children get creative and paint with them.
7. Mud Kitchen
An idea which continues to grow in popularity is the Mud Kitchen, which allows your child to get messy outdoors in a pretend cooking area. The good thing about a Mud Kitchen is you can give your child old kitchen utensils and pots which you are no longer using. There are so many different ideas online of what to make a Mud Kitchen out of, including pallets or old kitchen cupboards, the possibility’s are endless. At the end of the Blog there is a link to a booklet to download on Making your Own Mud Kitchen.
8. Water Play Tray
A great activity to do outside with your children is water play, as there are so many different variations you can do with it. You do not need to buy an expensive water tray (you could use a cat litter tray or even a washing up bowl). Here are some of my favourite water play ideas:
-Add jugs, measuring spoons, bottles and containers to water tray and let your child play and explore
-Sinking or Floating Objects-collect a variety of objects which sink and float and let your child experiment with these in the water
-Add paint or food colouring to water and freeze to make ice blocks and then let your children explore these in the water tray
-Flower Soup-add lots of different flower heads to the water tray for your children to explore, you could add tongs for them to pick the flower heads up out of the water
9. Pebble Painting
Collect some Pebbles from your Garden and let your children paint them, these can then be used as a feature in the garden.
10. Have a Treasure Hunt
Create a Treasure Map with Clues to help your children find toys or prizes you have hidden in the garden.
Outdoor Play promotes exploration & discovery
There are so many outdoor activities you can do with your children, the possibilities are endless, if you want even more ideas, check out the links below.
Further sources of information on Outdoor Play and Learning:-
· Messy Little Monster Outdoor Activity Ideas
· Learning and Exploring Through Play
· Making a Mud Kitchen by Jan White
I would love to hear what activities you like to do outdoors with your children, feel free to add your ideas below.