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outdoor play ideas

Warmer days are the perfect time to blow away the cobwebs by getting outside in the fresh air with your toddler – but there’s fun to be had in the great outdoors at any time of year! Writer Lauren Bridge shares her top tips.

Sand and water

Children love playing with sand and water – that’s why all good nursery schools have them. But when you’re at home, it’s definitely an outdoor activity. Add a sandpit, preferably with a water table option, to any outside space (strict supervision is required) and you have a sound investment that will keep your toddler entertained for many a happy hour. Add some small buckets, rakes, scoops and moulds, plus a chunky digger and a plastic boat, and your little one will be in seaside heaven – all in your very own back yard.

Old-fashioned games

Relive your childhood by hooking up with friends at the park to play some good old-fashioned outdoor games. What’s The Time Mr Wolf and Hide And Seek are always popular. Even the very youngest child will love ‘hiding’, so make sure you take your time and pretend loudly that you’re struggling to find them. Little ones feel huge delight in getting ‘one over’ on those silly grown-ups! Always take a soft football and a picnic rug to sit on. It’s a great way to wear the kids out and to get some quality time hanging out with other mums and dads.

Nature trail

Grab a seaside bucket and a bird or tree guide (optional!) then take a walk in your local woods, park or garden. Try to spot as many different types of tree, bush, bug and bird as you can. Collect leaves, sticks, interesting stones, pine cones, acorns and feathers, then lay them out on a designated ‘nature table’ or tray when you get home. Leaves and other bits and pieces are great for doing art and craft projects with too – simply add paper and glue!

Gardening for tots

Planting something and watching it grow is an activity that all toddlers (and many grown-ups!) get a big kick out of. Even better, you don’t need a garden – a balcony, window box or sill works just as well. Let your toddler help to sow the seeds and water them regularly, then sit back and watch a little miracle unfold!

Look up at the stars

Choose a clear night, somewhere without too much light pollution if possible, then cuddle up under a thick blanket and gaze at the stars. Ask your toddler if they can see the man in the moon. Explain how the moon changes shape, from full to a tiny crescent as the lunar month passes. Then head back indoors for a mug of hot chocolate with marshmallows on top and a poem, rhyme or bedtime story about the night sky.

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