You do not have to be bored sitting and watching your children play at the playground. There are simple ways to connect the outdoor playtime with simple, fun activities and learning at home too.
I tend to look at a visit to the playground as my chance to sit and watch-finally! I am up and down on my feet all day: up the stairs, down the stairs, criss-crossing the house. I don’t have extra energy to burn, but my children do. They need outdoor time to be ‘centered’. Most children do. It is important to get out, breathe in the fresh air and soak up some Vitamin D. There is so much wonder in God’s creation when we get outdoors to explore.
Play and Learning at the Playground
The playground is a great place to provide children with an opportunity to lead. It is also a great place to sneak in some exercise as a mom just by playing with my kids. We play hide-and-seek (my children often tell me where to hide), we run laps around the playground and we climb, jump, and balance. The babies can play too. I hold on to them to let them slide, and play in the grass. Print out a backyard scavenger hunt for the preschool kids, and explore!
The other day we collected acorns, and then had to do it again today. That turned into a whole thematic unit on trees!
After we got back to the house, we counted the acorns (math), sorted them into ‘big’ and small’ (math), and wrote the word ‘acorn’ on the ‘Aa’ page of my son’s alphabet book (language/literacy). Then, we read a book about Autumn and leaves falling that my son remembered had an acorn in it (language/literacy). After, we colored these tree template coloring sheets. They are easy to adapt to any season.
When all was said and done, we had spent over an hour on a focused theme that targeted multiple subjects for toddlers and preschoolers. I LOVE activities that provide me with so many teachable moments! Before you head to the playground next time, print out this free printable scavenger hunt. It will add a layer of learning and fun to the kids’ outdoor playtime.
Explore the playground, and visit it regularly. You can use apps like Yelp to locate all the playgrounds in your area and try a new one each week. These are the best free and cheap kids activities of the outdoor variety.
Check the ground for new elements like leaves and acorns. Collect them, count them, make a nature collage on paper or cardboard with them so you have a conversation piece for dinner time.
Run and play with your child. Even if my children do not nap after we visit the playground, they are much calmer and in good moods (usually) for the rest of the day. I think peace is found in nature. Next time you have a tough day, get outside to break things up and let everyone gain release.
Give your children that time to let them lead the activity; show them you value them. These activities are great for children ages 1 and up, not just the preschool set. And, even if you don’t have a ‘walker’ yet, playgrounds have swings, grass, and slides that you can help your infant explore.
Do you find that outdoor time is essential for your child? What fun do you and your child have at the playground?
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This post was featured in A Complete Guide for Stay-at-Home Moms: Exercise Inspiration. View all of the activities for kids that get mom moving too PLUS exercise workout ideas for moms HERE.