Wednesday, 11 April 2012

10 outdoor activities to do with toddlers in the Spring.

Spring is a time when the weather is unpredictable (actually, this is Britain, are there any times when the weather is predictable?).  It means that you can have really nice days - good for picnics and even the paddling pool.  But you can also have days of pouring rain, cold and even snow!  If you want to get outside, you need activities that you can do in coats and boots, and go prepared for anything:

  1. Look for signs of spring - anything from birds making nests, to catkins and leaf buds, frogspawn, crocus, snowdrops, ramsons, daffodils - track them down, collect samples for a season table, take photos... whatever!
  2. Make footprints in mud and compare the footprints made by different sized welly boots.
  3. Gardening - get them to help you sow seeds, or create a hanging basket.
  4. Make your own birds nest from sticks, ivy and moss (great for mini Easter eggs).
  5. Make a "pixie house" in the garden using rocks, maybe a little scrap of bark or wood for the door - you can use whatever is to hand and make it as grand as your imagination allows.
  6. Animal hunt - now that they've got into the swing of "hunting" for things after an easter egg hunt, get some other things to hide around the garden.  e-bay or charity shops are great places to find little ornament animals (usually ceramic, but you can get wooden ones too) and these can be hidden around the garden, in plant pots, in the fork of a tree branch, on a step etc. and the children can go out and find them.  Next time you could hide them in different places.
  7. Feed the birds.  As mummy birds start making and feeding baby birds they'll be getting hungry, and now is not just the hungry gap for humans - depending on the weather, there may not be much food around for the birds either, so help them out and make bird feeders, then sit back and watch the action.
  8. Practice ball skills.  If like me, you are uncomfortable with ball games in the house, then the chances are your toddler has grown several months older since their last regular exposure to kicking, catching and throwing.  Get different types of balls and practise those skills - their co-ordination should have moved on since the Autumn, and some regular practice should bring them on in leaps and bounds.  I just saw an idea for "catchers" made of milk bottles on "The Imagination Tree" blog here.  Well worth a try to help build catching confidence.
  9. Catch slugs and snails.  At this time of year these bad boys are coming out to play (and eat your seedlings).  Provide toddlers with a bucket and encourage them to find as many as they can hiding in empty plant pots or under plastic sheeting.  Get the children to touch them, look at them and really get up close and personal (then when the little ones have gone in for dinner, dispose of the pests by your chosen method so they can't feast on your garden - "oh dear, have they all escaped?")
  10. Build - with stones, with plant pots, with wooden blocks, with branches and sticks.  Whatever you have to hand, encourage your toddler to build with it.
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