Spending Time with Nature: Encouraging Outdoor Play this Spring Time
Spending Time with Nature – It is that time of the year again – the mornings are a little lighter, temperatures are growing warmer, flowers are blooming and everything appears fresh, beautiful and full of life. Gone are the days of staying curled up on the couch with a cup of hot chocolate, or huddled around the fireplace keeping warm. It is the perfect time to encourage your children to play outside and enjoy the sunshine. Play is the central ingredient to learning, and allows children to imitate behaviours, practise motor skills, and learn about the world around them. Here we suggest a few outdoor activities you can introduce to your children as a fun way to welcome the spring time in. However, first we want to discuss a few of the benefits of outdoor play.
The Importance of Spending Time Outdoors
Encouraging your children to spend time outdoors supports a number health benefits like improved mental and physical health, better sleep patterns and cognitive and emotional improvements. In addition, outdoor activities also support social growth, help stimulate sensory development and can even assist in improving academic performance. Outdoor play gives your children the opportunity to explore natural environments, test their physical limits, express themselves and develop their self-confidence. Outdoor play can mean more mess – and more mess often means more fun! But most importantly – always remember to wear a sun hat and suncream when playing outdoors.
Spending Time with Nature by Grow Vegetables
Take your children to the garden centre and have them pick out a vegetable they can plant, grow and eat. Teach them about their vegetable, how to care for the plant and make it their long-term project for the spring months. This is a great way to incorporate outdoor play with learning. To make it a more learning-orientated outdoor activity, you can have your children record their findings each week; they can draw a diagram of the plant, measure its height and comment on other variables like sunlight and water quantities.
Paint Flower Pots
Another great way of spending time with nature and learning about plants is painting flower pots. Set up a space outdoors where you can allow your kids free creative reign with paint, glitter, googly eyes and pipe cleaners. Show them a couple spring-themed patterns and pictures to help inspire them to create their own spring flower pots. Grab a couple seedlings from the garden centre and help them plant them in their new pots. This makes for a great present idea for family members and friends, or a sentimental addition to your own garden space.
Make Bird House
In the spring time, birds return to the landscape and are looking for the perfect place to build their new homes. Making a birdbox with your kids is the perfect way to encourage birds to inhabit the area, while also teaching your children about bird migration, and the wonders of nature. There are many creative ways to build a bird house to suit your style and craft abilities. To make things easier you can purchase a DIY birdhouse kit online or find many basic designs on platforms such as Youtube or Pinterest. Thereafter, you can encourage your children to stay on the lookout for new bird inhabitants, which can make for a great learning activity throughout the spring and summer months.
Design a Spring Nature Hunt
Help your children appreciate the beautiful spring season by encouraging them to be alert to their senses as they observe their changing environments. Plan a spring treasure hunt that allows your kids to venture through your own garden space, local park or botanical garden. This requires a bit of planning beforehand. Draw up a table of insects, objects, plants and flowers that can be found around the area and have your children pass through the space identifying each object as they go. Collect the items in a basket along the way, so that you can appreciate and examine the spring time treasures they have collected at the end.
Get Crafty and Press Flowers
The spring months welcome an array of beautifully coloured blossoms and flowers – but they do not last forever. As a way to preserve the beautiful colours of spring, you can teach your kids how to press flowers to create a vibrant spring picture to hang in a frame. Spend a little while venturing out into the garden to collect a variety of leaves and flowers. Position the flowers of your choice in a beautiful arrangement between two pieces of parchment paper. Thereafter, place inside the pages of a heavy weighted book. Add additional books or objects to weigh it down and leave it undisturbed to allow the flowers to dry out. This will take about 2-3 weeks. After this, you can gently peel the flowers from the parchment paper and place inside a frame to reveal a lovely recollection of spring.