Toddlers are curious and inquisitive in an innocent, highly engrossing way. For toddlers, nearly everything is an invention waiting to be discovered. That’s why toddlers run around the house, grabbing and chasing after anything that catches their eye. This is an intense learning phase of their lives.
This is not the time to confine them indoors, as this may limit their curiosity and hamper their learning experience. The best place to hone child care skills such as walking, and running (stumbling qualifies as running) is the outdoors, for the simple reason that there’s more space outside. Besides, the outdoors speak to your child’s sense of adventure and encourage them to start discovering the world around them.
Below are eight fun outdoor learning activities to keep your little one occupied. These outdoor learning activities can boost the toddler’s social, physical and cognitive development.
Activity #1: Mud Hand Impressions
This outdoor activity is ideal for toddlers to develop their tactile sense. Ideally, use any type of mud, but the fine beach sand is highly preferred. Demonstrate to your child how to make a hand impression on the sand. Let them imitate you. As you both walk away, point out the feet marks you are leaving behind.
Activity #2: Treasure Hunt
To pull off this outdoor activity, you will need edible treats and your toddler’s toys. The goal here is to develop your child’s gross motor, teamwork and curiosity skills. A treasure hunt is a team activity. Group the toddlers (preferably preschoolers in childcare) into teams.
Assign each team a zone in the backyard or garden. Each of these zones should have several items hidden in easy-to-find places. Hand to each team a list of items to be found in their zone. To spice up the activity, bury some of the items, although not too deep. The team that finds most, if not all, items in their zone is declared the winner.
Activity #3: Spray Painting
This outdoor activity is perfect for developing a toddler’s art and painting skills. To pull it off, you need several old buckets, large paintbrushes, and a chart paper. Lay the chart papers on the ground and pour non-toxic paints in a bucket.
Next, add water and mix thoroughly. Get the toddler to dip a brush in the paint and whip it onto the paper to form a fine splash of colour. Repeat the process with several other colours. This is strictly an outdoor activity since doing it indoors could get your walls dirty.
Activity #4: Sandbox Play
For this outdoor activity, you will need your child’s toys and a sandbox. The goal is to develop the toddler’s family bonding, creativity and imagination skills. Take a sandbox and place it in your backyard or garden. It should contain the toddler’s favourite toys.
Get them to sit in it and play with their toys. Due to its free-flowing nature, sand is fun to play with. Encourage the toddler to engage in all manner of creative play and play along with them.
Activity #5: Hopscotch
This outdoor activity for toddlers is aimed at developing their basic mathematical knowledge and physical strength. To engage the toddler in this activity, get coloured chalk and use it to draw a hopscotch grid on the ground. Each grid should be appropriately numbered based on its position or randomly.
Get the toddler to jump into a grid of their choice. To infuse learning into this activity, ask them to jump on the number within the grid. Start with easy numbers and move on to bigger ones as the toddler’s knowledge increases. This fun outdoor activity mentally and physically engages your child.
Activity #6: Rope Pulling
This outdoor activity for toddlers aims at developing a child’s team-building, gross motor, and muscle dexterity skills. To pull this activity off, you will need a tiny toy car or a tricycle, and a long, soft rope. This activity has the greatest impact when engaged in with a group of toddlers. Divide them into two equal pairs.
Take one of the rope’s ends and tie it to the small toy car or the tricycle. Give the other end to one group of toddlers. Mark a spot on the ground to indicate how far they need to pull. Get the toddlers to pull the tricycle as fast as possible and only stop once they reach the marked spot.
Repeat the same outdoor activity with the toddlers and children on the other team. The team that wins is the one that takes the shortest time to tug the tricycle along.
Activity #7: Garden Hide and Seek
This outdoor activity aims at developing the toddlers’ basic cognitive and social skills. This activity is best carried out at a park. You will need a partner to pull this game off. The partner and the toddler should hide while you seek them out.
Your partner should encourage the child to look for ideal hiding spots such as thickets, bushes, behind trees, etc. This activity can be made more fun by telling the toddler to call you out. As they do, pretend you can’t find them.
Activity #8: Pricking Soap Bubbles
This outdoor activity aims at developing a toddler’s vision, coordination of body movement, and tracking skills. You will need a partner and a soap bubble maker to implement this activity.
You can buy ready-made soap water or make your own solution. Use a bubble-making gun or loop to blow enough bubbles all around. Get the toddlers to prick as many bubbles as they can. Engage in a competition between the toddler and your partner. The group of toddlers that pricks the most bubbles emerge winners.
Outdoor activities help develop your toddler mentally and physically. They also help them to bond, develop various skills, and get along with each other in a team environment.