Fall is around the corner and along with school, changing leaves, and pumpkins comes cooler weather. This is a great time to get outside!
There are plenty of ways to entertain the little ones outside, but some require you to think outside the box, or the house in this case. Some of these ideas may be tried and true at your home, while others may spark some new creative play. Either way, they’re bound to get the youngest ones burning off their energy outside and not on your sofa (which is not now and never will be a trampoline).
Nature Bracelet Walk
One of the easiest activities involves taking a piece of painter’s tape (or packing tape or even duct tape) and wrapping it sticky-side out around your little one’s wrist. Then when you’re on a walk your children can create a nature bracelet of their very own by sticking leaves, flowers, twigs or anything else they come across onto their bracelet. It will be an original creation and will inspire them to pay attention and learn about interesting nature items they may have usually overlooked.
Apple Seed Sprouts
Children love apples in many forms, but they rarely see the seeds of the apples or know what they’re for. Caregivers can create a mini science lesson by cutting up portions of an old egg carton, filling it with good soil and planting the apple seeds inside. It’ll be a great way to start conversations about the origins of plants and about reusing our items we may usually throw in the garbage can. When the seeds sprout, they can be transplanted into a larger container until they are large enough to survive outside on their own.
Animal Track Hunt
Depending on where you live, you can discover animal tracks right in your own yard or neighborhood. This activity works best on soft, damp dirt, and as a bonus it will give you something fun to do after being cooped up inside on a rainy day. You can search near shorelines, ponds or just in that bald patch in your yard where you can’t get grass to grow. Help your child keep an eye out for animal tracks like raccoons, deer, or birds. This can be an opportunity to talk about where these animals live, what they eat and why they’re tracks are found so close to where humans live. Children are able to understand that human activity is pushing animals further from their homes and closer to ours. Can’t find any tracks? No problem! This can be an opportunity to discover how your own footprints can be used as a path to find your way back to your home. The National Wildlife Federation has a helpful guide to help you identify the tracks you come across.
Sidewalk chalk is a major winner at our home. Countless hours have been spent doodling on the driveway. But recently we tried to find new ways to use our favorite outdoor art tool. Find a bunch of different shaped leaves and use the chalk to trace them onto the pavement. You can talk about the different leaves and even what is different and what is the same about them. It’s also a great chance to talk about how the leaves change each season. Another idea is to trace shadows of people, trees, bicycles, etc. Children can have fun coloring these in or drawing their own design on them.