It’s half term once again! The time when many teachers breathe a brief but well-deserved sigh of relief and parents and carers start to rack their brains for new and interesting ways to entertain the kids and avoid the dreaded wails of “I’m bored!”
Natural outdoor play is a great way of keeping the kids entertained this half term whilst also keeping them active and healthy. Indeed, the benefits of natural play go far beyond that as it’s now well known that when children have the opportunity to play in natural environments, they’re happier, healthier and more resilient.
With widespread concern about children living increasingly sedentary lifestyles and rising levels of screen time, natural outdoor play is more important than ever. Half term is a great opportunity for parents and carers to spend time with their children and encourage them to connect with nature whilst experiencing the considerable benefits of natural outdoor play.
Here are some ideas of outdoor natural play activities to enjoy with your children during the school holidays:
Den Building – children love to play in settings where they’re able to build new structures and use their imagination to build their own play scapes. Making dens is a natural expression of children’s play. As well as promoting imagination and creativity, den building enables children to learn about materials and the world around them whilst developing valuable problem-solving skills.
Natural Playground visits – good natural playgrounds offer a wide and varied range of natural outdoor play experiences as well as the opportunity to connect with and understand the natural environment. Visiting a well-designed natural playground is a great way to experience the benefits, challenge and risk of natural outdoor play in an environment that is safe but also flexible and challenging. Children learn to challenge themselves physically, socially and emotionally in natural playgrounds whilst finding creative ways to use natural play equipment.
Nature Treasure Hunt – nature treasure hunts are a great way of engaging children with the natural environment as they discover different shapes, colours, textures and scents and learn about how the changing seasons affect the natural world around them. Discovering different objects and classifying them into groups has always appealed to children and it’s a great way of stimulating their curiosity and playful competitiveness. Who can find the smoothest stone, the smallest leaf or the most colourful petal?
Woodland Crafts – craft activities are always popular with children. However they don’t need to be indoor-only activities. Natural elements like pine cones, stones, twigs and feathers can be combined to create imaginative designs and creations. Or why not simply try making different shapes and letters using natural items along your route, helping children to explore different shapes, textures, sizes and colours in nature.
Animal trackers – It’s no coincidence that children’s books often include animals as children feel inherent empathy with animals. Natural environments are great for teaching children about animals and habitats. To see a creature in its natural environment is one of life’s natural wonders for children. Many living creatures can be found natural environments, but meeting them sometimes requires stealth, patience and playful ingenuity. Invertebrates are more easily encountered but require playful exploration of the forest habitats – looking under logs and stones etc. Even without actually seeing an animal itself, the natural environment is full of signs of life and habitat. Challenging children to find tracks, droppings or other motits and signs of animal life can be a fascinating and engaging activity for children.
These are just a few of the many outdoor natural play activities you can enjoy.
The natural playgrounds we design and build are inspired by nature and the joy of playing in the natural world. If you would like to find out more about the natural outdoor playgrounds we create please contact us and we’ll be happy to help.