Exploration, discovery and adventure are a huge part of childhood. Opportunities to become little investigators, surveying their surroundings can provide endless entertainment for children and allow them to develop great new skills.
Whilst summer may have disappeared, autumn is an incredible time of year to put on some wellies, wrap up warm and take advantage of the fresh air and natural surroundings. Here are just a few ideas of things to do outdoors.
When out for walk, why not turn your little energetic bundles into extreme explorers? It doesn’t matter where you are or where you are going, simply give your charge a list of 5 things to look out for on your journey. They may be hunting for a snail, a particular leaf or they may have to locate a bird’s nest – either way, they will have to manage this challenge and search carefully for their treasure. If you are doing this with more than one child, consider a team game or one that is against the clock. Exploration will build their independence, confidence and develop their concentration levels. Challenging them with more complex discoveries will keep them occupied and engaged all the way home.
Hunters and Gatherers:
It’s conker time! Although you may not love the idea of playing conkers, gathering them can be a less painful challenge that you can do whilst out and about. Building a tower out of conkers or using them in a piece of their art work when back at home adds creativity and provides them with a something to present to parents at the end of it. If you do not have any conkers near your house, there are plenty of other things to collect: gather leaves, twigs or if you’re brave enough, a shoe box of little creatures. They will have to return these to their habitat before heading home but it is a nice way for them to learn about nature and get a little messy at the same time.
Pretty much everything can be done outside. So, why not gather some paper, pencils, glue and string and head for the park to create an artistic masterpiece. Whether your charge is creating a leaf collage or pinecone forest, there are plenty of materials to use and no rules. Art is free; allow them to express themselves – just maybe keep control of the scissors and the glue.
After a few activities outside, you may decide it’s time to turn the outdoors into a kitchen. For some, your charges may have an actual mud kitchen outside. For others, you might have to make your own. Turn the little explorer into a chef and tell them to make a meal on a plate for a forest monster to eat. You may end up with a plate full of soil, a few worms on the side and a mottled leaf garnish but your charge will be thrilled with their work and will have messy hands to prove it. The forest monsters will be delighted.
The outdoors is full of surprises and lots of exciting things to probe. Use your imagination and turn the simple outdoors into the best playground there is.