Outdoor play is all fun and games but do you know how many ways it can impact our little ones?
Through personal experience I have seen how well outdoor space can inpact physical development. Outdoor spaces allow children the space they need to explore their movements and enables them to develop confidence and can provide an environment in which, if they fall we don't mind as it can become messy mud play! The posibilities are endless! We can also support them more as we can support them loudly without worrying about naggy neighbours and physically without squishing in to small spaces!
As we all know there are five senses but how can outdoor play develop our little ones senses?
Sight- there is so much to look out when outside! So many different colours and animals! Maybe take a book and see how many you can identify. See if you can see the sutal differences between males and females within the same species.
Touch- Allow your little ones to feel their way around the world; the roughness of bark, the squishyness of the soil, the cool flow of water from streams. Remember to use lots of different description words so they can widen their vocabulary.
Hearing- What wonderful noises do we hear when we are out of the house? The rushing by of cars, the different sirens of emergency services, all the animals. Take a moment, lay on the ground in a wooded area, don't speak, just listen. What different birds songs can you hear? Can you hear the leaves rusteling in the trees?
Smell- Have you ever noticed all the different smells when out of the house? The fact the earth smells different when its wet or that each flower has a different smell. Allowing your children to stop and smell things, encourage them to even, it will open their noses to lots of smells they may not expereience in urban areas.
Taste- Yes taste is very interesting one. One I often get critizized for. Young children explore the world with their mouths. I never thought twice about my boy putting a stick or a leaf in his mouth. Even now at 18months old he has the occasional chew on a bit of moss! Fruit and veg comes from outside, allow them to experience the earthy tastes! It also has the added bonous of helping them develop their immune systems!!
Being outside children can build confidence by learning to take risks and assesing situations and encourage critical thinking- "if I jump over this gap will I make it to the other side? Is this stick safe enough for me to stand on?" If there are oppertunites to get your little people together in nature don't be afraid to step back and watch what happens! They might suprise you, problem solving as a team and role playing are just some of the things that can happen when out and about. We have recently learnt to use hand rails to help us up slopes!!
This is one of my personal favorite areas. Encourage your little one to pick up a stick and ask them what it could be if it isnt a stick! Attach a piece of string and it becomes a fishing rod. Wace it around while saying silly words and its a magic wand. What have/will your little ones say?
If your child is particularly interested in the outdoors schools and nurseries sre starting to offer 'forest school education' as part of their curriculums! My son recently went to one and I must say they are truely amazing!!
Remember the world is exactly what you make of it! Through letting children learn about the outdoors, you are teaching them to respect the world around you!
Remember to try and leave everything as you find it!
This a link to our local forest school nursery for some insperation: https://www.facebook.com/middlewoodnaturenursery/
Here is a website for some fun outdoor activities insperation: