With the weather improving, it’s finally time to get outside and play! Here are some of my kids’ favorite backyard activities when they were toddlers and preschoolers.
- Create Animal Habitats: My kids love doing this, even to this day! Each child grabs their favorite mini wild animal toy and an old plastic Tupperware container and heads to the backyard. To create habitats (mini dioramas) for their animal, they pull twigs off bushes and leaves off trees, use sand for deserts, small rocks for climbing structures. With an extra small bowl, they can even create a water source for their habitat. It’s helpful to have several containers handy as my kids usually want to create varied habitats for all kinds of animals: desert, forest, ocean. Voila – fun at no cost! (except clean-up 🙂
- Create a Nature Book: Going on a long walk with young children can be nearly impossible. They typically dawdle and are so distracted that you might not make it past your neighbor’s house before they tire. So, we started making nature books so the kids could dawdle, discover and play while on the “short walk up the street.” Grab a little spiral notebook, Scotch tape and a pencil. Have the children pick up any nature items along the way (rocks, sticks, twigs from bushes, flowers, seedlings) and collect them in a bag. Once home, your child can tape the items (one long piece of tape usually works) to each page in the spiral notebook and then they can write (with your help, good letter practice, bonus!) what each item is. I still have my older daughter’s nature book from when she was 4. It’s become a keepsake and I can’t believe the dried twigs and grass lasted this long!
- Host a Grand Tea Party: We have such beautiful days during Arizona’s fall and winter seasons, and these days beg for a tea party or picnic. An old throw blanket in the backyard serves as the setting for a tea party the Mad Hatter himself would be envious of. The girls bring out 7 to 8 stuffed animals, their tea set and play dough. They place their stuffed animal friends all around the blanket and they fill the kettle with water that they can then pour (and spill, we are outside) into their teacups. We use the play dough to create pretend cookies, hot dogs and sandwiches for the tea party. This usually occupies them for at least an hour. Win!
- Chalk and Water. Could there be a more magical combination of things? Walkways and driveways are your canvas. If you dip your chalk in water for a bit, it draws like paint and is SO much fun! When my kids were toddlers, I would draw pictures of alphabet letters or animals and ask them to identify each, working on speech and letter recognition/sounds while we played. Now, I can draw a humpback whale in five seconds flat! My kids’ favorite now are body outline drawings (although, admittedly, after a while our driveway looks like a crime scene).
Grab your little ones and head out to YOUR backyard or park to enjoy the weather with your kids!!