Playing outside

Taking your child outside can be a breath of fresh air for everyone and an opportunity for them to let off steam. You can go to the park, feed the birds, play matching games, go for a walk or play with shadows.

Get back to nature

In the fresh air

Fresh air and daylight helps keep children and adults healthy and happy. So get out into the garden, or if the weather is nice – or at least not too bad – you could make a few trips to your local park instead.

Have fun in the play area or how about taking a bag or a bucket with you to collect fallen leaves. If you're dressed snugly, autumn and winter can be a great time for a toddler in the great outdoors too.

Feed the birds

Take a walk on the wild side with a visit to the local pond or waterway. Children enjoy seeing animals and love feeding the ducks. Take some bread with you so your child can feed the birds.

Maybe have a chat about what the birds are doing and what size and colour they are. By saying things like: ‘This one is hungry,’ or ‘Did you know that ducks can fly?’ you can help your toddler value the natural world.

Help them to understand the need to care for all animals and yet be careful and not go too close.

Nature bucket

Even a simple walk can become a nature trail – if your child brings a small bag/seaside bucket. You can both go on the hunt for interesting things to put in it, such as:

  • leaves
  • flowers
  • pinecones
  • pebbles
  • feathers

When you’ve got a collection, you can go home and talk about what's in the bucket. With a bit of paper and glue, you could even make a picture with the things you’ve found. Then add it to your child’s art collection on the fridge door.

If you do this during the different seasons your child will begin to notice the differences.

Always remember to wash their hands when they return indoors or keep wipes handy when outside.

Outdoor games

Silly shadows

Play with shadows by showing your child how to stand with the sun behind them and:

  • watch their shadow
  • make it move
  • chase it
  • jump on it

Join in, waving your arms and wiggling your fingers. It’s a good way for both of you to burn off a bit of energy. You can even help your child to draw around some of the shapes with a piece of chalk.

Waving in the wind

The weather is one of the great talking points in Northern Ireland. On a windy day, you can have fun by giving your toddler a piece of ribbon, scarf or paper bag to wave around in the wind.

You could also give your child a bag with a string attached to see how it moves during a windy day. Your little one might like to draw on and colour in the paper bag too. They’ll have fun exploring the effects of the wind on the bag.

All washed up

When the weather is nice enough to hang out washing, your child will want to hang out with you. So when you're hanging clothes outside to dry, it might be fun to ask your toddler to join in with their toys' or dolls’ clothes.

You could take a bowl of water outside and work together to 'wash' the items. It doesn’t matter whether you wash a doll, a little dress or a truck. All you have to do now is work out how to dry them.

You can attach a piece of string at both ends, and give your child some clothes pegs to hang up the different items of clothing on their washing line. They will be able to count the items, match the socks together, and discuss the different sizes of clothes which fit their teddies or dolls.

More useful links

Information based on similar messages from Play Talk Read Scotland.

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