Tag: nature play (Page 1 of 28)
Outdoor play for children is so important for all ages (read here to find out why), and in this mini series of posts I will run through some varying outdoor play ideas for different age groups of children. This post is all about outdoor play for teenagers. This age group is such fun as you extend their boundaries, give them more independence, and more challenges. Outdoor play for teenagers is still very important, and also in continuing to foster their love of nature and the outdoors, so when they are ready (very soon) they will want to continue out of their own initiative. These outdoor play ideas for teenagers are supposed to do all of that…be fun, challenging, and help connect them to nature. I hope your teenagers enjoy trying them.
Outdoor Play For Teenagers
- Climb a mountain, large peak, or hill together: This will allow them to take a little responsibility for packing, looking after themselves, and some basic map reading but on a grander scale. The time together will allow for some lovely bonding time as well. They will like the sense of adventure too.
- Cook on a campfire: We cook on a campfire regularly and my three smaller children are up to speed on fire safety, and hopefully are learning skills they can then use in the future. With a teenager, take it that step further, and allow them (supervised) to cook the meal on the campfire.
- Take a hike at night time with them. There is a good collection on the website for the National Trust if you fancy trying one of theirs. For an extra challenge they also do night runs
- Let your teenager lead you for a wild camp. Let them plan with you where to go, lead in the pitching, and any activities/organisation while you are there.
- Learn to surf….you might find this another fun one to do with them for something new to try!
- Swim in the sea (make sure they are safe and supervised!!).
- Go on an off road cycling adventure.
- Make colourful nature textiles using sun dye paints. Mine have just done simple fabrics, but you can make cushion covers, t-shirts, the list is endless. The effect is beautiful.
- Build a raft and try to sail it (again make sure any activity around water is safe and supervised).
- Build a mini pond. This is a great activity for them to add a feature to your own outdoor space, however small.
- Learn to use (supervised) some other bush craft equipment. My three love the Kelly Kettle. It is fun and easy, and gives them a good start to fire making skills on a smaller scale.
Outdoor play for children is so important for all ages (read here to find out why), and in this mini series of posts I will run through some varying outdoor play ideas for different age groups of children. This post is all about children between preschool and teenager age. This age group is such fun as you are starting to loosen the reins a little, and give them some freedom and independence. When we are out, I often set boundaries that are within my hearing range, but then let them go off. They have a lot more fun as they think they are “unsupervised and free”, but they are in fact very safe and being looked out for. However, they enjoy this feeling. These outdoor play ideas have been successful for us because we have kept them simple and not had high expectations for the trip into the great outdoors 🙂 I hope you enjoy trying them.
Outdoor Play For Children
- Have a water fight: Admittedly this one is probably more fun in the warmer months, but give them a few bowls and buckets and they will be amused for hours!
- Make a dam: My three love experimenting diverting the flow of water into the sea, but also trying it in streams and rivers as well. Just watch your water safety and take your construction away afterwards! This is not only a summer activity, mine have done it in the depths of a Swedish winter with their wellie boots and waterproofs on too.
- Build a fort: This is a little more intricate than a den and can be a place they can head back to again and again, so maybe somewhere very close to home. They will invent their own games to play in it once they have built it. Mine also love making these indoors, but they are more temporary structures then!
- Make coloured nature ice blocks and let the creativity flow outdoors in winter.
- Find a local forest school and attend a session. Lots hold sessions on weekends or in the school holidays. If this isn’t convenient, you could get together with a group of like minded families and form your own nature club with all the children.
- Make a bug hotel/mini beast house. This is great for getting children to think about the wildlife around them and use their imagination to build one. Oversee and let them have a go with some tools (mine used hammers, saws, and drills to make this one)
- Play frisbee. A great outdoor game, fun at any time of the year.
- Catch a fish in a net. Some have more patience than others at this. Our little lady has endless amounts when it comes to this, our mini men less, but they keep on coming back to try again.
- Go wild berry picking. Make sure you know what you are picking though!! We pick wild strawberries, wild raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and sloe berries.
- Go Tracking. This we find a lot easier in winter in the snow, but you can look carefully for muddy tracks too.
- Go wave jumping….any time of the year is good as long as your clothing and footwear are right!
- Play in the sand dunes. This you need to be careful with and I always set boundary limits for my three and ask them to stick together, and NOT play hide and seek (they can’t hear you calling and it is quite easy to lose them!) But there is otherwise plenty of fun and imaginative games to be had in sand dunes.
I hope you have enjoyed these outdoor play for children ideas and have found some inspiration from them. Don’t forget to check out the other three age groups as well, in case you fancy trying something from there, adapted to suit the age of your child. 🙂 Let me know how you get on in the comments.
Outdoor play is so important for children of all ages (read here to find out why), and in this mini series of posts this week and next week, I will run through some varying outdoor play ideas for different age groups of children. I am kicking off with toddler outdoor play ideas. This, in my opinion, was the hardest age group for me with my three children. At this age they are walking, but sometimes still like a push in a buggy, or still need a push in a buggy. I found frustration levels could run high when they couldn’t do something, and getting them all dressed up for a bad weather day outside is a whole other talent (and then in the winter once done, they can hardly move!!). However, it is so good for them (and us) to get out there, so I thought I would suggest a few ideas that you can do with each other once you are outdoors. These toddler outdoor play ideas have been successful for us because we have kept them simple and not had high expectations for the trip into the great outdoors 🙂 I hope you enjoy trying them.
Toddler Outdoor Play Ideas:
- Mud Kitchens: Any old pots and pans or utensils will do, maybe with a plastic jug thrown in for pouring, and your little toddler will delight in making up the most yummy mud meals you can imagine. This also enables children to get very hands on with earth, dirt, and mud, which reaps a whole heap of other benefits too.
- Bubbles: I purchased a large cheap bottle of bubbles and mine loved chasing them wherever we were, and seeing where they went. I was also a little cunning here. I had a pair of twins that would run off in different directions when we were out. So, when it all got too much for me, or it looked like I was in serious danger of losing one or both, I would use bubbles in open spaces (such as the beach) to help stop this from happening. It was perfect. I was happy that they weren’t escaping, and they were having a blast!!
- Puddle Jumping: Or if your toddler isn’t quite jumping yet, just wading will do. Make sure they are dressed appropriately as there will be a fair few bum splashes at this age too, but it is all fun for them. You can either take a little walk on a day with lots of puddles, or just use any puddles right outside your door.
- Bare feet: If the weather/terrain allows, kick off that footwear, and let your little person enjoy running and playing unencumbered by clompy shoes. They will feel more connected to nature, a little more stable (maybe), and enjoy the sense of freedom that not wearing any shoes brings.
- Bug hunt: Go on a very simple bug hunt. You needn’t go far, just far enough to look under a rock or log. Perhaps take a simple bug pot with a magnifying lid on so they can enjoy examining the mini beasts you find before returning them back to their home. Children are naturally fascinated by nature.
- Pooh Sticks: Have a good old fashioned game of pooh sticks. We still have to stop to play this on every bridge we cross over. Choose your sticks then stand on your bridge, throw them in together, then race to the other side of a bridge to see whose reappears first.
- Go collecting sticks, or stones, or both: They will be intrigued by size and shape, and you could even take some home to do craft or paint on later. Sometimes, if an outing/walk has a purpose, they are more interested in it.
- Outdoor Art: Take a huge old sheet outdoors somewhere, with some washable paints. I put the paints into old Tupperware tubs that small feet and hands can tread in. Strip them off down to whatever you are happy to wash (nappy in my case!!), and let them squish their little toes into the paint, then run all over the sheet (or use their hands). When my little lady was small, we did this often, and one day she ended up painting her whole body!! Not quite what I had in mind!! I always had a washing up bowl of soapy water handy for after!
- Water play: The best toddler outdoor play ideas are when they are kept simple, no need to invest in water tables and spend money. A few jugs, a watering can filled with rain water, and some buckets, and they are good to go. They will be fascinated with pouring from one container to another, or even making splashes. Just make sure they are being watched when water is involved 🙂
- Wash their toys: Give them a bucket and a sponge/cloth and let them wash down their ride-ons, bikes, or trikes. They will enjoy this, and if you are feeling brave, let them “help” you do your car.
- Take the indoors outside: Toddler outdoor play can involve indoor toys outdoors. Any plastic toys will be enjoyed hiding in bushes, climbing up mountains of mud, or large plastic lorries and cars driving through sandpits.
I hope you have found some inspiration from these toddler outdoor play ideas, and will come back to read about the other age groups 🙂 Let me know in the comments below how you have got on, and in the mean time I am off to psych myself up to get my three into their winter weather gear for an afternoon of outdoor play in the Swedish winter!! It usually takes around 20 minutes for this to be achieved, with lots of heated discussions/squabbles!!!
Back in February, I started uploading a monthly outdoor activity list which you can access under the freebies tab. You will need to subscribe to the blog and you will be sent an email with the password to access the freebies tab. It is now time to think about the April outdoor activity list, which can be accessed under the freebies tab 🙂 If you don’t have the password, don’t worry, subscribe to the blog and you will be sent it in your confirmation email. Hopefully the weather is beginning to get a little warmer now, and you can ditch some of the layers, making getting outdoors with little ones a bit easier.
Any form of getting children into the outdoors is a good one. Whether it is a gentle potter around the back garden or a good old hike for older ones across the countryside, if it is for 5 minutes or 5 hours, the benefits can still be reaped. You don’t need to climb a mountain, a little dig in the garden is perfect too. As the author Richard Louv famously suggests, we should be using vitamin N (N for nature) as treatment for nature deficit disorder.
That is why each month, at the start of the month, I will add onto the freebies page a list of 10 activities to help inspire you to head out there for your dose of vitamin N with your little, or not so little, people. These are some of the things I do with my three to give me some direction and an aim for getting them out there, which often helps everyone’s frame of mind. So head over now to the freebies tab and check out the April outdoor activity list.
The aim behind the ideas for the April outdoor activity list for getting vitamin N is that they are all very simple, so shouldn’t put you off. And if you need a little more convincing about the ideas where mud is involved, head over and have a read as to why mud and dirt are worth all the extra effort 🙂 Vitamin N can be achieved without sitting in the middle of a forest, wild camping, and hunting for your supper!! It can be achieved by just stepping outside your front door (or back door), into whatever awaits you out there. With nature springing back into life after a sleepy winter, it is a perfect time to head into the outdoors to see what you can discover, using our April outdoor activity list to guide you.
I am hoping through these activities that you make a lot of happy memories, have fun together, and enjoy being outside. If you need more information about an activity on the list, I have blogged about doing most of them, so if you type in a few keywords in the search box, you should then be able to get some more information, or see what we have done in the past.
Let me know how you get on with the April outdoor activity list in the comments below, I will love hearing about your experiences. You can also share your experiences on social media too, it will give others ideas and I can keep up with what you are all doing. Use the #fridayoutdoorfun on your Instagram photos, and don’t forget to join in with our Friday outdoor fun thread on Facebook (every Friday). And if the children have got mucky, then join in with our Mucky Mondays thread (every Monday) over on Facebook . Go and have fun in April 🙂
“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning, but to children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” (Fred Rogers)
Free play is something that we prioritise for our children, and we find very important. We find it re-centres our three, and allows them to “just be”. Children these days have a lot of structure in their lives. There is structure during the school day, there are after school activities, and there are a lot of screens to be used. Add that in together with an increased reluctance to allow our children to take risks and decreased time for unrestricted outdoor play , free play is in danger of becoming a lost activity for our children. This post discusses what free play is, why it is important, and how we can help as parents, or people looking after children, to provide opportunities for it to happen.
What Is Free Play?
Free play is totally unstructured and a fully child initiated form of play. This child led experience is a spontaneous activity born out of an interest, curiosity, or enthusiasm about something they want to pursue further. Their imaginations take them wherever they want to go, with lots of motivation and learning along the way. It is a simple form of play that does not require complicated gadgets or electronic toys, just whatever is to hand, whether that be a stick or a doll.
Why Do Children Need Free Play?
- Free play leads to increased enthusiasm and motivation as they are following their own interests and curiosity, rather than something predetermined by an adult.
- It is a very important learning method through self discovery.
- It decreases anxiety and stress: Fight or flight pathways are activated during play (same pathways that are activated by stress), so they get exposed to stress but in a positive way. This in turn makes them less responsive to stress and they can regulate it more effectively.
- It helps develop social and emotional connections
- It increases a child’s resilience.
- Teaches the child good negotiation skills if the play involves other children.
- Following on from the negotiation skills, it can then teach them to compromise and adapt.
- It uses their imaginations and leads to increased creativity.
- Due to using their own initiative, it helps improve problem solving skills.
- It increases their confidence as they engage in new experiences.
How Can We Provide Free Play Opportunities?
- Fancy dress boxes: You needn’t spend a fortune on outfits. Mine have collected a few over the years, but a lot of their outfits are old bridesmaid dresses, dance costumes of mine, or old hats, scarves, and shoes. They love dressing up and then making up a scenario to go with it.
- Have less toys with electronic functions, or predetermined functions, but instead allow more for the child’s imagination to take over.
- Less parental intervention or suggestions, less coached activities, and less screen time.
- Provide protected time for free play to actually happen. If it has been a hectic week with commitments, scale down the scheduled activities and let them play.
- Take them to outdoor spaces, and then allow them time to have free play in that environment. For example, on beaches or in woods. Sit and watch the play take over when you give them the time. If you don’t walk as far that day in the woods because a “campfire” needs to be made or a den built, or a river-let of water “fished” in, come back another day. They will have learnt more from having the time to play rather than being moved on because a trail needed to be walked.
- If you are taking a circular walk, allow more time than needed. This then allows them time to investigate and play with chunks of ice, or admire a ladybird.
- At home, leave craft supplies out, and see where their creativity leads them into with what is left out.
- At play parks allow them to determine how to use the equipment. If the game involves walking up the slide (as long as no one wants to come down) it isn’t harming anyone. As adults we think we know how equipment should be used, but stand back and let the professionals show you 🙂
- Allow for boredom…..don’t fill it in!
I hope you have enjoyed finding out about the benefits of free play and ways in which we as the grown ups can make this happen. There are benefits for us as well…..life is slower. There are less scheduled commitments, we feel less like a taxi driver, pulled in multiple directions, and there is less stress in our daily living due to being less busy 🙂 It is a win for everyone!
Bastasjö is a lake that is the centre piece of the Bastasjö friluftsområde, outdoor area. It is very convenient being only about a 15 minute drive from the centre of the city of Karlskrona in the south of Sweden. It is a huge area of hiking trails around the surrounding woods. What makes this place so good for families are several things. There are a lot of marked trails in a variety of distances, so you can pick what you think you can manage. There are also good fire pits, surrounding the lake on all sides, allowing for you to build a campfire safely and cook in the great outdoors. At the side of the lake where the main car park is, there is also a building, which houses toilets. You can rent this out as well if you are running an activity in this location.
We arrived at Bastasjö in the depths of winter during the Swedish sportlov holiday, and although we were doing our own thing, it was interesting to see they had a “drop in” campfire with sausages cooking, everyday this holiday week from 10am until 1pm. They also had other activities, for example a night run and orienteering. There are illuminated trails, as well as ones you can use for cross country skiing when there is enough snow on the ground. We chose our trail, the blue one that skirted round the lake, spotting a fire pit that looked good at the half way point, and we set off.
We had travelled inland for about 20 minutes to reach Bastasjö, so there was still a fair amount of snow on the ground compared to what we had at home on the coast, so it made for a scenic walk. The lake was truly frozen over, and there were even some intrepid people having a mini ice hockey game on it…..but keeping very close to the edge still. They obviously did not trust the ice thickness that much. My trio were keen to use their binoculars to watch them (see my other tips for hiking with children). They have never known sea or lake ice so thick you can run, walk, or play on it. They were memorised. It all helped to take their minds off the fact they were hiking with backpacks, and were surprisingly perky! They were even surprised to find themselves at our chosen fire pit thinking the first part of the walk had gone fast, and I was quite surprised to find us there without any whinges of “I’m hungry”!
The children dropped their backpacks, and although the little lady announced she was doing the Kelly Kettle, all three raced off and suddenly starting constructing a den in the woods behind the fire pit. I was happy at my work in the peace and quiet sorting out a lunch of hot dogs and campfire toffee apples. Whilst I was busy, a lady who had seen us light the fire from the other side of the lake where the building is, had walked round and started taking photos….apparently she needed photos of people out enjoying the area with their children during sportlov! Once cooked, three hungry little den builders appeared and gobbled their food up. There was a lovely wooden shelter at this fire pit, and although it was not windy today and not such a painful experience to eat outdoors, it was lovely to be a little sheltered while we ate. I had not planned to stay at the fire pit for the whole 2 hours that we did, but the children were so happy climbing trees and den building, that I left them to it until they were ready to leave. Instead, I amused myself by trying to keep the fire going by using twigs from the ground, and although they were covered in snow I somehow managed, so was feeling quite pleased with myself!
Eventually the trio felt it was time to pack up and move off, and we set off to complete the trail and the loop around Bastasjö. They tested the limits of the ice on the lake intermittently and tried to break it with large rocks……no luck in breaking it though, it was really solid ice.
I would definitely recommend visiting this lovely outdoor area beside Bastasjö if you are in the area, and for us it will be fun to return in the summer and see a totally different looking place to the one we had experienced today. There are also geocaches in the area, but due to the cold, my phone battery dies very fast, so we never got to look for them today, so we will save those for the warmer months as well. Something to look forward to coming back for, as well as maybe different organised activities we could try next time.
Last month, I started uploading a monthly outdoor activity list which you can access under the freebies tab (with the password you get sent after subscribing to the blog). It is now time to think about the March outdoor activity list, which can now be accessed under the freebies tab 🙂 If you don’t have the password, don’t worry, subscribe to the blog and you will be sent it in your confirmation email.
Any form of getting children into the outdoors is a good one. Whether it is a gentle potter around the back garden, a good old hike for older ones across the countryside, if it is for 5 minutes or 5 hours, the benefits can still be reaped. As the author Richard Louv famously suggests, we should be using vitamin N (N for nature) as treatment for nature deficit disorder.
That is why each month, at the start of the month, I will add onto the freebies page, a monthly list of 10 activities to help inspire you to head out there for your dose of vitamin N with your little, or not so little, people. These are some of the things I do with my three to give me some direction and an aim for getting them out there, which often helps everyone’s frame of mind. So head over now to the freebies tab and check out the March outdoor activity list.
The aim behind the ideas for the March outdoor activity list for getting vitamin N is that they are all very simple, so shouldn’t put you off. And if you need a little more convincing about the ideas where mud is involved, head over and have a read as to why mud and dirt are worth all the extra effort 🙂 Vitamin N can be achieved without sitting in the middle of a forest, wild camping, and hunting for your supper!! It can be achieved by just stepping outside your front door (or back door), into whatever awaits you out there.
I am hoping through these activities that you make a lot of happy memories, have fun together, and enjoy being outside. If you need more information about an activity, I have blogged about doing most of them, so if you type in a few keywords in the search box, you should then be able to get some more information, or see what we have done in the past.
Let me know how you get on in the comments below for each month, I will love hearing about your experiences. You can also share your experiences on social media too, it will give others ideas and I can keep up with what you are all doing. Use the #fridayoutdoorfun on your instagram photos, and don’t forget to join in with our Friday outdoor fun thread (every Friday). And if the children have got mucky, then join in with our Mucky Mondays thread (every Monday) over on Facebook . Go and have fun in March 🙂
It is the start of a new season, and time for us to reveal our Spring Bucket List. We have enjoyed doing the activities on our autumn and winter ones, but we are looking forward to feeling a little warmth from the sun, feeling the temperature creep above freezing, and embracing the riot of colour that comes with spring. Although as I write this, just a few days away from March, we are still firmly in the below zero temperatures and with snow both on the ground and falling from the sky. It is hard to believe anything will grow in the near future! So let’s see what’s on our list for the season of spring.
Our Spring Bucket List
- Catch some falling blossom
- Feed some young farm animals
- Make a bird feeder
- Make seed bombs
- Bird watch
- Blow dandelion bubbles
- Make an Easter bonnet
- Do some spring craft
- Make some Easter chocolates
- Make dandelion cookies
- Make Easter nests
- Climb a tree
- Make Easter biscuits
- Visit a pond and do some pond dipping
- Blow bubbles and try to catch them
- Blow the heads off dandelions and make a wish
- Fly a kite
- Make a bird house
- Make a fairy garden
- Do flower pounding
- Go on a nature hunt
- Make a flower press
- Press flowers and make something with them
- Celebrate the arrival of spring ( Valborg)
- Go on an Easter egg hunt
- Make a bug house or mini beast hotel
- Make a den
- Paint egg shells for Easter
- Dance in the rain
We can add one more rather fun one for the country we live in (Sweden), and that is watching the cows being let out of their barn for the first time after the winter. It is a big event here 🙂
I hope we have given you some fun spring inspiration with our spring bucket list (just click on the links if you need further help or information about them) and let me know if you try any of them and how you get on.