Make the most of the school holidays by getting out into nature with your family. Here, Rachel Clinkard, from footwear retailer Charles Clinkard, shares some outdoor sensory activities to try with your kids this half term.
With spring in full swing, now is the perfect time to enjoy the outdoors with your family. And, not only can being outside help you make the most of the season, but it could have plenty of benefits for your little ones.
Spending time in nature can help boost children's confidence, according to a survey conducted by UCL and The Wildlife Trusts, with 84% of children saying they were capable of doing new things after being outside. Being outdoors can also help improve your child's sensory development and fine motor skills.
To get all the benefits of being outside, I'll be sharing some great outdoor activities you could try with your family this half term. So, put your wellies on and get exploring!
Create a wildlife scavenger hunt
One great way to get your little ones exploring the world around them is by creating a wildlife scavenger hunt. You can do this anywhere you like, including a nature trail, your local park, or even your back garden.
The best thing about making your own scavenger hunt is that you can tailor it to your environment and your children's age and ability. Just create a list of things you'd like them to find. For example, for little ones, you could put together a list of pictures of woodland animals for them to spot, or, for older children, a list of cryptic clues for them to solve. If you can, try to include a mixture of clues that will involve two or three of their senses, including things they can see, hear, and feel, so they can fully engage with the environment.
This would also be a great time to remind your family about the importance of taking care of our environment, so we can preserve all the nature that they spot for the future.
Create a mud kitchen
If you'd like to encourage your little one's creativity and imagination, then why not get them a mud kitchen? These are miniature kitchens that you keep outdoors, and your little one can use them to make their own pretend culinary creations from anything they find in your garden!
Get your little ones to explore your outdoor space to find the right ingredients for their recipes. For example, they could pretend to make their own cake from mud, using sticks, stones, and leaves as decoration. Encourage them to build their communication skills by becoming 'head chef' or practice their numeracy skills by counting out their ingredients. They could even apply their literacy skills by writing out their recipe as they 'cook'.
Create natural art
Making nature-inspired artworks is another fantastic way to nurture your little one's creativity and encourage them to explore the world around them. Whether you're in a nature park or your garden, why not have a hunt for interesting objects, such as twigs, acorns, and leaves, and use them to make natural art on the floor.
To protect our environment, make sure you leave everything where you found it and don't take anything home with you. If you'd like to remember your creations, why not take a photo? You could even have a go at recreating them once you get home.
Plant a kitchen garden
If you're looking for a more long-term project, why not start your own kitchen garden? Not only will this help reduce your children's screen time and develop their fine motor skills, but it can also be very educational. Planting your own produce means your little ones can learn all about how their food grows and provides an excellent opportunity to teach them about the art of patience. Plus, the excitement of harvesting their homegrown fruits and vegetables will encourage them to eat healthier too.
You can plant your family's favourite foods or try something you've never eaten before. While most fruits and vegetables can take a whole season to grow, you could pick quick-sprouting veggies, such as cress and other microgreens, that take just a matter of days. Plus, you often don't need a garden for these. You can plant them in small pots on your windowsill, which makes them the perfect option if you don't have a large garden (or any outdoor space at all).
While you're waiting for your plants to grow, you can still enjoy your time in the garden by enlisting some little helpers to pull out weeds and water your crops. Your kids are sure to enjoy playing around in the mud with their wellies on!
The outdoors provides plenty of opportunity to engage your senses and encourage your little ones to explore the world around them. Whether you stay local or visit a new nature spot, why not give some of these activities a try?