Playing outside with your child

Taking your child outside to play in fresh air allows them to let off steam. Tell them how healthy it is to breathe fresh air. You can go to the park, feed the birds, play matching games, go for a walk or play with shadows.

Watching nature

Fresh air and daylight helps keep children and adults healthy and happy. Go out in the garden or to your local park.

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

Feed the birds

Visit 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.

Talk to your child about what the birds are doing and their sizes and colours. By saying ‘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 that people need to care for all animals and yet be careful and not go too close.

Nature bucket

Go on a walk and follow a nature trail – if your child brings a small 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 have 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

People often talk about the weather. 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. They 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.

Washing and hanging out clothes

When you 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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