Spring – it’s the season of renewal and growth making it the perfect time to shake off the blues and engage in some outdoor activities that encourage sensory exploration, social interaction, and holistic development.
The ideas below all embrace the beauty of nature while nurturing kids’ senses, skills and connections.
Sensory nature walks: Taking a sensory nature walk is a fantastic way to immerse your child in the wonders of the outdoors. Encourage them to touch various textures, from the rough bark of a tree to the soft petals of a flower. Explore the array of colours found in blooming flowers and changing leaves. Engage their sense of smell by having them identify different scents in the air. As you stroll, discuss the sounds of nature – birds chirping, leaves rustling, and creeks babbling. These walks offer not only sensory stimulation but also opportunities for mindfulness, observation, and language development.
Plant some flowers: Engage your child’s decision-making skills by letting them choose their favourite blooms to plant; chat about the different colours and shapes etc. Take it slowly and encourage tactile exploration by observing things like the soils texture and temperature. Explain the various stages of plant growth, connecting their actions to the eventual blooming of the flowers (fingers-crossed!). Regular watering and care create a routine that encourages responsibility and a bit of patience!
Nature art: Nature-inspired art projects can be both creative and therapeutic for our kids. Begin by collecting leaves, petals, and twigs during your outdoor adventures. Use these items to create collages, do leaf rubbings, or paint pictures. These activities promote fine motor skills, creativity, and cognitive development by encouraging your child to explore shapes, textures, and colours found in nature. There are some great ideas on YouTube if you need some inspiration!
Butterfly watching: Observing butterflies in their natural habitat provides a beautiful learning opportunity. Spend time discussing the diverse colours and patterns on their wings; encourage your child to ask questions and share observations, fostering their curiosity and language skills. This activity can also serve as a foundation for discussing life cycles and the interconnectedness of living creatures.
Outdoor yoga or movement: Take it outside and build physical strength, body awareness, and emotional regulation in the fresh air. Tailor movements to your child’s abilities, incorporating stretches, simple poses, and breathing exercises. If you have regular physio sessions, your child’s therapist may be able to provide an outdoor circuit for you to try.
Scavenger hunts: Scavenger hunts can be adapted to accommodate your child’s interests and abilities. Create a list of spring-themed items to find, such as flowers of different colours, unique leaves, or items representing growth and renewal. You’ll be fostering problem-solving skills and attention to detail all while having lots of fun.
Bubble play: Bubble play offers a captivating visual experience and an opportunity to enhance visual tracking abilities. Experiment with various bubble-making tools, observing how bubbles form, float, and pop. Encourage your child to reach for bubbles, promoting hand-eye coordination and gross motor skills.
Nature listening: Need a little bit of quiet time? Find a peaceful spot outdoors and engage in a nature listening activity. Close your eyes and focus on the sounds around you – the wind rustling through leaves, birds singing, insects buzzing, and water flowing. Encourage your child to describe the sounds they hear, fostering auditory perception and vocabulary expansion. This activity also serves as an opportunity to practice mindfulness, enhancing their ability to be present in the moment.