The rise of apartment living and the increase in screen time means children today are spending less time outdoors amongst nature. Think back to when you were a child. I bet some of your happiest memories involve playing outdoors and getting muddy!
So many young children today prefer to spend time in front of their TV or on their iPad, but they’re missing out on the benefits that using natural resources to play offers. As children explore the world, they use all of their senses - they can see colours and patterns, experience new natural textures, and smell the leaves, flowers and sea air.
Nature itself presents so many opportunities to experiment, create, play and learn. Have them collect natural resources and try some of the following games, to give your child more opportunities to develop using methods that involve plenty of fresh air - and far less time on devices.
Create a natural world
Provide kids with a shoebox or another cardboard box they can use to reinvent a new world using items they find in nature. From a dinosaur land to a farmyard and their very own magical kingdom, ask them to collect pebbles, sand, twigs, flowers, leaves and hay to build their natural world.
This game helps to inspire creativity, develop imagination and encourages them to work on their language skills as they play and tell you all about their new world!
Make cakes (just don’t eat them!)
Give children some cupcake cases and ask them to make cakes using anything they can find. Playdough, sand and mud make a good base, and they can decorate their creations using twigs (candles) and petals or shells (sprinkles).
This helps children to develop dexterity in the fingers - just be sure to supervise to make sure the cakes aren’t too tempting!
Practise writing their name
If using paper or an iPad isn’t engaging your child as much as you’d like, they can try writing their name in the sand or mud using resources they find outside, such as sticks. Otherwise, they could collect a bunch of shells and lay them out to make the letters in their name. (Or their initials, if their name’s too long.) This is a fun way to develop their literacy and name recognition skills.
Create a treasure basket
Discover the games they come up with when you give them an opportunity for heuristic (open-ended) play. Encourage them to collect any items in nature they like (this could be leaves, flowers, shells, pebbles and anything else) and let them explore and play as they please.
Heuristic discovery gives children the chance to explore different textures and sights, and to make their own decisions to form an understanding of the world around them.
Make natural jewellery and perfume
From linking flowers together to threading shells through some string, making jewellery from items around the earth is a fun, challenging game that helps to improve hand-eye coordination as well as creativity.
Children that show an interest in your toiletries might also love to create their own perfume. Let them fill a plastic bottle with water and petals so they can work on their own “signature scent”.
To learn more about the ways we encourage children to interact with nature here at Kids’ Kampus, don’t hesitate to reach out on email@example.com or (09) 630 1454.