Hoping to enjoy more time outdoors with your little one this spring? In this article Rachel Clinkard, Ecommerce Director at family footwear retailer Charles Clinkard, shares five fun sensory activities for your toddler to do outside.
If you're looking to spend more time outside with your little one, doing some outdoor sensory activities is a great way to go about it. Not only is sensory play fun for your toddler, but it can help them with their cognitive development too. Plus, spending time outdoors is a great way to teach your child all about the world from an early age, so they can understand the importance of looking after the planet.
The good news is that there are plenty of fun, outdoor sensory activities to try out which both you and your little one will love. So why not give one or two of the following a try?
Nature scavenger hunts
Lace up your walking boots and encourage your little one to immerse themselves in nature by setting up a wildlife scavenger hunt in your closest woodland. You can make a list of different types of wildlife and plants for your child to spot on their hunt — for toddlers, it's a good idea to add pictures so they can easily find what they're looking for. There are plenty of different things you can add to your list for spring, from wildlife like squirrels, bird, and bugs, to plants like daffodils, daisies, and four-leaf clovers.
Try to think of ways you can incorporate as many senses as possible into your scavenger hunt. There will be plenty of things to see and sounds to hear from the surrounding wildlife, but you can also include scent by getting your little ones to stop and smell the flowers. You can even incorporate touch by encouraging them to feel the texture on leaves and trees — just remember to bring hand sanitiser with you on your adventure!
Plant a kitchen garden
Looking to start growing more of your own food? If so, why not encourage your little one to help? Growing fruit, vegetables, and herbs is a great way to introduce them to different types of food, including their texture, smell, and taste. It will also teach them about the responsibility of growing their own food and give them some practice in being patient when waiting for the food to grow.
While you will be doing the bulk of the gardening, there are plenty of simple tasks that your toddler can help you out with, including watering the plants, covering seeds with soil, and harvesting small things such as berries. They can even help you out in the kitchen once the produce is ready to use, by helping you wash the food and make healthy, colourful recipes to eat together as a family.
Paint with nature
If your toddler enjoys getting creative, this is a great sensory activity for them. Lay out a few coloured paints and different natural objects, such as leaves, twigs, and flower petals, which your little one can use instead of paint brushes. As well as teaching them more about the different textures found in nature, it also lets them explore their creative side.
Since you're doing this activity outside, you don't need to just stick to a sheet of A4 — lay out a large canvas or sheet for your child to get stuck into. And if you're looking to teach them even more about nature, task them with painting different bits of wildlife that you can see in the garden, such as a bird or a butterfly.
Now that the weather is getting warmer, it's the perfect time to get out in the garden and play with water. Water play has lots of benefits for toddlers, including helping them develop hand-eye coordination, motor skills, and even their concentration (Busy Bees). And as there are plenty of different types of water play to discover, you're bound to find one your little one will love! A few different ideas to try out include:
Sensory bin: Create a water sensory bin full of objects made out different textures, such as sponges, rubber ducks, and water balloons.
Colourful water play: Use food colouring to make different coloured water pots and teach your little one more about mixing colours.
Garden beach: Get some sand and a large tub of water to create your very own beach in the garden.
Of course, water play can get a bit messy, and although the temperature is slowly getting warmer, our British weather can be hard to predict! Make sure your child has a comfy pair of wellies and waterproofs to stop them from catching a chill if they're out playing for a while.
Create an obstacle course
Get your little one active and help them develop their mobility skills by setting up an obstacle course for them to tackle. As well as helping them explore with touch, this will also help them burn off a lot of energy, making it the perfect choice for an energetic child!
There are plenty of different obstacles to incorporate into the course, including hula hoops to use or jump through, cones to navigate, and bean bags to throw into a bucket. If you have any play equipment in your garden, such as a slide or a sandbox, you can use these as well. Once your little one has completed the course, don't forget to gift them with a small reward for their hard work!
The outdoor sensory activities above can not only help your little one with their development, but are also bound to keep them entertained this spring. Looking to find more activities for your toddler to take part in? Make sure to check out the groups and classes on near you at Toddle About.