Exploring the world outside is a great opportunity for your preschooler to learn, and develop important skills. Here are seven suggestions for fun and educational outdoor activities you can do with your young child.
- Involve your child in gardening – Kids love to be helpful, and offering them age-appropriate activities in the garden will give them a feeling of accomplishment, while also teaching them about the life cycles of nature.
- Make flower and leaf art – Take a walk around your neighborhood and discuss the different leaves and flowers you see. If you can, collect some leaves and flowers (or the weeds your child may think are flowers), and bring them home. Here, your child can draw the leaves and flowers she sees, or even use them to paint and stamp with.
- Go bird-watching – Preschoolers have short attention spans, so we don’t suggest traditional bird-watching. Instead, go for a walk and encourage your child to look for birds in trees, or listen for their calls. In the spring, you can look for bird families with their young.
- Look for colors in nature – Pick three colors your child is familiar with, and spend an afternoon looking for those colors in nature. Encourage your child to look for these colors in items like flowers, leaves, and grass – even birds and bugs.
- Teach letters, numbers, and shapes with sidewalk chalk – Drawing shapes, letters, and numbers with sidewalk chalk is both fun and educational for your child. You can draw a series of shapes such as a square, a triangle, and a circle, and ask him to run to the circle, or to color in the square. You can also write out his name in big letters and ask him to help you. This can be an ideal opportunity to teach math concepts to your preschooler.
- Collect rocks or shells – Whether this activity is done on a beach or in a park, encourage your child to hunt for rocks and/or shells of varying sizes, colors, textures, and shapes. Help her, and discuss the different features of each rock or shell she collects. At home, wash the rocks or shells and have your preschooler display them according to whichever characteristic she likes.
- Turn everyday walks into education – Young children are endlessly curious about their world, so it’s easy to turn an everyday walk into a learning experience. On a walk around your neighborhood or even during a longer nature walk, encourage your child to discuss what he sees around him. You can talk about the texture of tree trunks, ask him to point out something green, splash around in a puddle together, or even watch a spider working on a web.
Outdoor experiences are an ideal opportunity to help your child develop a love of the world around her, while also strengthening vital motor, mathematical, and problem-solving skills.