Getting the kids outdoors to play isn’t always easy. Here are 10 free outdoor play ideas to consider next time you want to get some fresh air with your pre-schooler:
1. Go on a puddle jump trail
Make the most of rainy days outside (yes, really) with a puddle jump trail. All you need is a good pair of kids waterproof boots, a raincoat, and an adventurous spirit. Let your kids take the lead and find as many puddles as possible to jump in. Taking slow-motion videos on your phone is a nice way to increase the fun.
2. Take a woodland wander
A woodland walk is an inexpensive way to spend time outdoors. Take your time and encourage your children to notice all the amazing little details around them – different leaves, tree bark, shadows and streams of light coming through the treetops. Can they spot any signs of animal life? And what places can they find to climb, jump off, or hide behind?
3. Try a portable DIY mud kitchen
If you don’t have a mud kitchen in your garden, you can easily make your own DIY mud kitchen (and a portable one at that) by building a basket of essentials – bowls, buckets or tupperware, spoons, jugs, water bottles, sieves, and natural small bits like herbs & spices, petals, leaves and conkers etc. Watch as they get messy, and experiment, making muddy concoctions and playing with natural finds!
4. Head to the beach for sandcastle making
This one’s a classic. If you live near the coast, a beach trip needn’t be expensive. Make the most of sandcastle making and all the fun that brings. Help the fun last longer by taking additional tools and decoration items from home – like homemade paper flags or shaped jelly moulds and playdough cutters.
5. Make a mini garden
If you want to help your children have more fun outdoors in your own garden, give them a try and challenge them to make their own mini garden. All they need to do is carefully pick different elements (like grass, stones, petals, leaves) and arrange them into a mini garden. Watch as their imagination goes wild.
6. Create an outdoor obstacle course
When you’re feeling energetic, and want to burn some of your child’s energy off too, try creating an outdoor obstacle course using toys and garden furniture. Think of ways to help your preschooler use their whole body – from things to crawl under and climb to things to pick up and carry from one place to another.
7. Do a local playground tour
For a full day out that’s free, take a tour of multiple local playgrounds in one day. Give your child a time limit at each park so they know what to expect, and perhaps you could meet different friends in different places.
8. Hold a family sports day
Get the whole family into outdoor play with a mini sports day in the garden or nearby park. It doesn’t need to be complicated. Take turns to race each other, jump obstacles, or do a ball and spoon race. You could make paper rosettes in advance to celebrate the winners!
9. Take chalks on your outdoor adventures
If you own some chalk, don’t forget they’re great for use outside of your own backyard. Take chalk on a walk and decorate the path as you go, or how about decorating the front of your house with coloured bricks (that you can wash away whenever you want).
10. Make a water exploration station
Water fun needn’t be saved for summer paddling pools. Set up an outdoor water exploration station, whatever the weather. All you need is a large tray, some plastic bowls, spoons, and a jug – plus water! You can add whatever props you think your preschooler will enjoy, like their favourite plastic figures or pom poms.
This article was written by the Cotswold Baby Co, a family-run online store selling clothes, gifts, and toys inspired by the Great British Outdoors! Head over to browse their fun animal-inspired children’s clothes, ideal for outdoor adventures.