Let's Get Outside and Explore Nature With Our Kiddos
We think we have to do big elaborate actives for our children, but sometimes, and I would argue probably most times, the simple activities are the most engaging and enjoyable activities. What we have to remember as parents is that our children are naturally curious and have a desire to explore the world around them. They ask questions, experiment, and seek to discover new things. Sometimes all it takes is a slight prompt or nudge from mom or dad to help provide meaningful and developmental experiences for our children. We love using our animal toys from Safari Ltd in variety of ways. Here are a few ways that you can have creative play experiences with your child outside.
A Nature Scavenger Hunt
We created some simple nature scavenger hunt cards (you can find the printable at purposefultoys.com) that have things such as, “find something hard, find something soft, find something big, find something small, find something heavy, find something thin, find something brown, find something crunchy etc. These simple cards help provide prompts for your child to explore what’s in their very own backyard. As they follow these prompts, they are then able to compare and contrast features of nature. They take a closer look at the world around them, and see things that they maybe overlooked before. These simple prompts open up their eyes to the discoveries that are in their very own backyard.
Outdoor Educational Activities: Sensory Play
We love to include our animals from Safari Ltd in a variety for sensory activities. We love simply throwing them in water with scoops, spoons, a fishing net, tongs, sorting bowls etc. We might even add bubbles to give our animals “baths” along with some sponges or toothbrushes to get the animals cleaned.We play with our animals in actual dirt, mud or sand. When dirt and sand seem to be scarce we mix up our own dirt and sand using chocolate Nesquik, oil and water (you can find these recipes at purposefultoys.com).
We love freezing our animals in ice and then use hammers, and to break them open. We might even use water droppers with water and salt to help dissolve the ice in order to break the animals free. There are endless ways to use your Safari Ltd animals in sensory activities. Outside sensory is a great way for children to not only explore outside, but be engaged in a messy activity that is hands on and developmental as well.
Painting With Safari Ltd Animals
One of our recent favorite educational activities we do with our Safari Ltd wild animal toys is use them with paint. We like to dip their feet in paint and add their footprints to paper. We then like to play a game of “guess that animal”, by trying to remember which footprint belongs to what animal. We also love painting our animals with washable paint, then scrub them clean in a bath of water and soap.
Another paint favorite is placing our animals on a table for the children to see, then using our easels, the children try to paint the animal that is displayed. The children feel like artists and love being able to do a colorful art activity while using the Safari Ltd animal figures.
Backyard Safari Educational Activities
Another fun way to play outside is by creating a safari expedition right in your own backyard! I went outside in our backyard before my children and hid a variety of animal toys from Safari Ltd. Trying to be a slightly particular with “realistic” habitats for that particular animal, I placed them throughout the yard. Then we dressed up like real explorers using our safari hats and binoculars. The children loved getting into character and role playing that of a real explorer! This simple activity was brought to life through their imaginations! They searched for the animals with their binoculars, and once they found them all they insisted on hiding them again, and then proceeding to hide them for each other to find. We even got our neighbors involved and they continued role playing that of a safari expedition all day long! This is one the children want to do over and over again!
In conclusion, there are a lot of ways to explore and play outside. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate activity, but children will benefit from being outside immersed in the beauty and benefits of nature. It might take a slight nudge from mom or dad, but as they continue to explore, they will discover that play and adventure await them outdoors.
RyLee Matangi is a Child Development Specialist & Blogger.