8 Ways to Enjoy the Outdoors During the Pandemic
Think back to when you were a child. In what setting were most of your favorite childhood memories located? I can guarantee that they were not indoors at a computer or television.
As parents are now forced to educate their children at home, let’s not forget about the importance of outdoor time.
When you spend time outside with children, it can do more than just give them an outlet for all of their energy. The great outdoors has so many positive benefits for children and their development. First, it allows them time away from technology to learn about nature. Next, it gives them a chance to use their energy in positive ways, which reinforces gross motor skills in addition to positive social emotional development. In addition, the outdoors can be educational for children. Lastly, it gives them a way to bond with family through activities and experiences. All of these things can have a lasting impact on preschoolers.
Below are eight ways you can enjoy the outdoors with your preschooler while also reinforcing learning.
1. Picnics-Pack a lunch, a blanket, and find a safe outdoor spot to enjoy lunch together.
2. Rock Hunt-Grab a bucket or a basket and ask your preschooler to find 5 different rocks. Then, create activities from the rocks such as; ordering (biggest to smallest), alike and different, and possibly even painting the rocks afterwards.
3. Insect Scavenger Hunt-Grab a pencil, paper, and begin searching for insects. When you find them, ask your preschooler to draw them and label them (with your help). When you’re finished you can discuss the different insects that you found and learn more about them here.
4. Flowers and Trees Scavenger Hunt-Find out which flowers and trees are native to your area and create a picture guide checklist for your preschooler to follow as they search for each item. As a bonus to this activity and the insect scavenger hunt mentioned prior, there is a book set available just for preschoolers on outdoor exploration. Click here to view Becker’s Outdoor Explorer Book series set.
5. Plant and cultivate a garden-This is something that can teach your preschooler not only about science, but also assist in several other developmental skills. Gardening helps preschoolers with the following skills: gross motor, fine motor, literacy, and cognitive development to name a few. Another area of development is life skills as it takes time, patience, and hard work to cultivate, grow, and enjoy a harvest. Whether you have an outdoor space or want to create a container garden, either way it can provide a multitude of learning for young children.
6. Swing-Did you know that swinging with your child provides more than just fresh air, fun, and bonding? The science behind swinging approaches Isaac Newton’s Law of Motion and many other concepts in physics.
7. Look to the sky-Grab some comfy chairs or a blanket. Then, use your imagination as you look at the clouds. Talk with your preschooler about what they are seeing and describe what shapes you see in the clouds too.
8. Dance in the Rain-There is nothing preschoolers love more than to get messy. Next time it is raining (not thunder storming), do not be afraid to jump in puddles and play with your child. Put on their favorite song and dance. This whole experience can give your young child a visual example that sometimes you have to stop, have fun, and not take life too seriously. That is a lesson we all need to be reminded of from time to time.
The great outdoors can provide lasting memories for you and your preschooler. It can also provide a great outlet during such uncertain times that we are currently living in. Try a new outdoor activity with them weekly and watch as learning unfolds while they are having fun too. You will be surprised how much excitement it can bring to your entire family.
Wendi Iacobello is a graduate of Appalachian State University with a Master of Arts in Educational Media. She also has a BS degree in Early Childhood Education. Her professional career in education spans across nine years in the public education sector to include; middle and high school special education, adult education for incarcerated men, women, & youth, compensatory education, High School Equivalency instruction formerly known as GED, and community college instruction in Early Childhood Education curriculum courses. Wendi is an Army Spouse and first time mom to an adorable infant boy. Her hobbies include; volunteering in the local community, gardening, teaching aqua cycling and stroller fit classes on the military installation, and encouraging the military community through her blog Strength 4 Spouses.