We love getting outside in the fresh air come rain or shine and we asked Nanny Louenna to share her top tips on enjoying the outdoors with children, regardless of the weather.
Research shows the majority of children in the UK spend less than an hour outside each day, and this is so sad as I truly believe that playing outside has huge benefits to children's mental and physical health.
Fresh air and the sense of freedom contributes to better behaviour, learning skills, and attention span. It also definitely helps children sleep better at night! When I was studying at Norland College, we were always taught “there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing”! My essentials kit which I would LOVE every child to own is: an all in one waterproof suit, welly boots, a snood, hat, and gloves. Muddy Puddles have a brilliant range of good quality outdoor clothing to keep little ones warm and dry. I have used their outwear for many years with lots of little ones and highly recommend them! Rain or shine, I always take children outside at least once per day. There are lots of different ways you can make this enjoyable for them regardless of the weather. In the summer your little ones can enjoy water play, picnics, garden hunts, drawing and painting outdoors and bubbles to name a few. In the colder weather I make sure we all wrap up warm and go for welly walks, hot chocolate picnics, make nature hats, mud pies and play plenty of games.
If children complain they are bored when going for a walk, I try to make it interesting for them. I ask them questions along the way, such as ‘who can collect 5 brown leaves’ or ‘can you find something orange.’ This gives them a purpose for walking and a sense of achievement at the end!
Here are a few of my favourite activities:
Tin Foil RiverRoll out a sheet of tinfoil and scrunch up the sides and each end to create a wall where water can’t escape. Fill with cool water until it is deep enough to float your boats on. If you create two side by side your children can have a boat race!
GardeningGardening is one of the best sensory lessons that you can create for your little ones. It also teaches your child the art of nurturing and caring for something else. Gardening requires dedication and patience, but the excitement of seeing your first flower bud, or eating a vegetable that you've grown from a seed, is beyond rewarding and gives children a huge sense of achievement. You don't need a garden to grow flowers or vegetables. A plastic washing up bowl with holes cut into the bottom with a drill makes a great mini garden to grow indoors or outdoors. If you are using the bowl indoors then pop the bowl on a tray so the water doesn't leak.
Start with easy to grow & quick sprouting seeds:
- Herbs in a pot on a window sill, basil is great to grow to then make into a pesto!
- Cress seeds in an egg box, or make a cress head with egg shells.
- Sunflower seeds grow quickly in tubs and are fun to see how high yours can grow!
Outdoor Noughts & Crosses
This is the classic noughts and crosses game (also known as Tic Tac Toe), but played outdoors with sticks you find in the garden. 1. Collect four sticks... 2. Each player needs to find four matching objects from the garden that are different from each others - leaves, stones, or cones are perfect substitutes for the noughts and crosses 3. Each player takes a turn to add their object to a square. The first player to line up three objects in a row wins!
Coloured IceTip the ice into a tray and let your little one explore the feeling of the cold ice for a rainbow themed sensory play…
Make this activity into a science experiment by talking about why and how water turns to ice, and think of different ways of speeding up the melting process. Hold ice in your hand to see if it speeds up the melting process. Put some ice into a bucket or bowl of cold water and others into warm water to see which melts the fastest. Encourage older children to mix melting colours together to see what colours you can make.