We all know the start of the year is a cold and dismal period when it comes to the weather. But that doesn’t mean you should give up on trying to get your children outdoors and stay put in the warm instead, as tempting as that sounds!
Getting children outside in all types of weather can have a hugely positive impact, not only on the children’s development but also on both children’s and practitioners’ mental health too!
If you’re stuck for ideas of outdoor activities for children that you can use in your setting, take a look below!
Set up a ‘mud kitchen’
Outdoor activities don’t always have to be structured. One activity you could do is to introduce a ‘mud kitchen’ into your setting’s garden.
Setting up a mud kitchen could be as simple or complex as you want it to be. You could simply provide the children with some bowls and spoons and let them explore the rest, or you could go the whole hog and set up a mini kitchen with pots, pans, plates, bowls, the lot. It is totally up to you!
One popular way to enhance this experience is to give the children fresh herbs and pasta alongside their cooking utensils so that it feels more like they are making ‘real food’. You could also provide them with some teapots, water, and flavour-infused tea bags so the children could have a go at making their own little cups of tea.
Giving the children a controlled environment with lots of different materials allows them to explore and discover new interests on their own. This can have huge benefits for their development, allowing them to direct their own learning and naturally be more engaged which leads to a long-lasting understanding of the world around them.
Go on a scavenger hunt
A great way to get children to identify and verbalise what they see outdoors is to set them up a scavenger hunt. Give each child a sheet with a photograph or icon of each item they have to find. Before you go outside, hide all of the items on the children’s sheet somewhere in the garden.
Then, when you’re ready to go outside, let the children have lots of fun searching for the items on their sheets. You could also get them to say the name of each item out loud when they find it and match the picture on the sheet to the item they find.
To take the activity a step further you could place specific items in specific places in the garden. For example, you could place a leaf under a tree. Then when a child matches the item to one on their list you could ask them where the item comes from. This gives the children a chance to think about the nature that’s around them and how it connects together.
Create a fake campfire
We all love a good campfire! The warmth, the marshmallows, the songs, it’s a great way to get people together as a little community. Getting children together and making a real campfire in your setting’s garden may not be the most achievable idea, but that doesn’t stop you from having all the fun that comes along with it.
You can hide all the materials beforehand: sticks, colourful feathers, even leaves if you want (although I don’t recommend putting these on a real campfire as they create lots of smoke). Then, when you’re ready to go outside, the children can have lots of fun running around and gathering all the materials for their campfire. Once all (or most) of the materials have been collected you can start asking the children to place them together using the basic structure of a campfire. Leaves first (small tinder), then the sticks (larger kindling), and then the colourful feathers to add the flames on top!
You can take this activity a step further if you want and have everyone sit around the “campfire” to sing some campfire songs. Some of my personal favourites are Campfire’s Burning, Animal Fair, Little Green Frog, and Baby Bumble Bee!
However you do it, getting outdoors can break up your day and introduce different places for children’s development. If you use one of our activity ideas or have come up with something unique of your own, make sure to share it with us, @eyworksltd, on social media!