Archive of ‘Outside Play’ category

Pretend Play: Sandbox Garden

While walking through the dollar store, I came across their floral department and wondered what I could do with some of their brightly colored silk flowers. At first I thought about a sensory box, but then thought it would be much better to get outside for the activity and take the “gardening” to the sandbox!

Pretend Play for Toddlers: Gardening in the Sandbox

 Supplies:

  • Silk flowers in a variety of colors
  • Watering can
  • Kid-friendly hand hoe
  • Kid-friendly spade
  • Plastic flower pots
  • Any other kid-friendly gardening tools you have on hand

I stuck the flowers in her sandbox, tossed in the tools, and called Peanut over (not that she hadn’t spotted the fun and was headed over already). She dug right in with the tools, but didn’t show much interest in the flowers. In fact, she really only played with the flowers for a few minutes. She mostly focused on digging with the shovel and the hoe. She also enjoyed filling the flower pots, scooping sand into them, dumping them out, and starting all over again.

Pretend Play for Toddlers: Gardening in the Sandbox

I have to admit…she probably didn’t know what to do with the flowers because Mommy is terrible at growing flowers and we don’t have many around our yard. She sees flowers as pretty things you smell when you’re in a park! :/ I really need to work on that skill. Haha!

What we talked about during play:
“Look at the pretty flowers!”
“You sure are good at filling that flower pot.”
“Can you put the flower in the flower pot?”
“What are you planting?”
“Did you find any seeds?”
“I see that you dug a hole. That’s a big hole!”

Keeping these supplies in the sandbox for a few days is easy and your kiddo will love it. It’s a change from the normal sandbox toys that take up all the real estate in the box that provide a chance for your toddler to be like you and garden away.

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There’s a Commotion in the Ocean Literacy Bag

Who doesn’t love the ocean? And who doesn’t enjoy the book There’s a Commotion in the Ocean by Giles Andreae? This literacy bag explores the lovable book with ocean characters, ocean character movement cards, and a jelly fish in a bottle craft!

There's A Commotion in the Ocean Literacy BagSupplies:

You will need to do some preparation in advance of this literacy bag. You’ll need to print the movement cards and make the jellyfish in a bottle, which the instructions for can be found here at Bhoom Play. My words of advice are to take your time on the jellyfish. I tried to hurry when cutting my tentacles and they were too big and the “jellyfish” couldn’t move around in the bottle well.

 

Once you have everything assembled, put everything in your literacy backpack and determine where you’re going to sit down, relax, and read your story…preferably outside if the weather is nice! It was a bit rainy today, so during a break in the rain we got outside and sat on our covered porch which had stayed dry enough we could still use it.

I introduced the book to Peanut by reading her the title, author and illustrator. Today I mentioned that we were looking at the cover of the book. Book features such as covers, title pages, indexes, etc. are becoming more and more important in school earlier and earlier. Pointing these things out now so your kiddo can find them easily on any book when they reach school age would make your child’s teacher ecstatic. I don’t expect Peanut to know what these are before she’s 3 or 4, but I feel good pointing them out so I know we’re working on it.

Exploring a crab from There's a Commotion in the Ocean

When I began to read each page, I’d get out the figurine that went with that page. Between the bath set, the ocean animal figurines, and our Little People Zoo Talking Animals we had all but one of the sea creatures. Peanut was able to explore the toy while I read her the page. Then, we’d look at the illustration and I’d point out how the animal in the picture was the same as the animal she was holding. I’d complement her on any attempts she made to say the animals name or to copy the sound it made.

After we finished the book, I showed her the jellyfish in a bottle and she explored that for a while. Then, we did our best to make all of the motions from the animal movement cards. Some she was more then willing to try. Some she walked away from me like I was crazy.

Sea creature movements

What we talked about: 
“Look at this, it’s the same animal that is in the book!”
“You’re right, that is a crab.”
“That’s a jellyfish in the bottle. Isn’t he cool?”
“Great hiding, you’re hiding just like the lobster.”
“Doesn’t the whale your holding look like this whale in the book?”
“That’s a penguin. Did we see penguins at the zoo yesterday?”

I stored all of the animals, the book, the jellyfish, and the cards back in her backpack and have been letting her explore it from time to time since we’ve read the book this week. She likes going through the book and figuring out all the creatures.

Happy reading!

Dishwashing Water Table for Toddlers

Peanut is a water baby. She would play in water for hours if I would let her. Water tables are a great way to get in some water play, even if your water table is just a big plastic tub!

Dishwashing Water Table for Toddlers

I got lucky one day on my way home from work. I drove by a daycare that was going out of business. Outside the building they had all kinds of preschool equipment lined up for sale. Climbers, water tables, picnic tables, everything! And even better for me, everything was on sale for cheap. I was able to pick up a water and sand table, similar to the one below, for $20 that was in great shape! You can get a smaller table for around $30, but they’re usually fill of toys the manufacturer thought would be good in a water table and you can’t fill your table with your on toys. I recommend watching Craigslist or the news paper to try to find a water table for a great price. Otherwise, you can just get a large tub for water play.

Supplies:
Water Table or large tub
Plastic cups
Plastic plates and bowls
Plastic spoon and forks
Tear-Free Bubble Bath

Dishwashing Water Table for Toddlers

I opted to use bubble bath for our dishwashing liquid so if Peanut happened to get any in her eyes, it wouldn’t hurt. I filled the water table, stripped Peanut down to her diaper, and tossed everything in. Peanut couldn’t wait to get into the fun. She spent forever getting her dishes sparkling clean.

Dishwashing Water Table for Toddlers

She even tried to get herself clean a few times, as you can see. She even ended up getting the dog bowls by her self and “cleaning” them. Then she started putting dishes on the ground and dumping water into them. Well, really more dumping it all over herself and trying to pour it in a dish.

Dishwashing Water Table for Toddlers

Vocabulary used during play: 
“Look at all those suds!”
“Use some soap to get your dishes clean.”
“You’re dumping the water everywhere.”
“You’re all wet!”
Cup
Plate
Fork
Spoon
Bowl
“There are lots of bubbles.”

It was easy to set up this activity and I think Peanut would do it every day. This one is great for hot days and to keep in your arsenal! I think I might even pick up a scrub brush from the dollar store for her to use next time!

2 Ingredient Cloud Dough for Toddlers

My inspiration for this activity came from Learn ~ Play ~ Imagine through this post.

Two Ingredient Cloud Dough for Toddlers

My un-messy Peanut had no problems doing this activity inside on the mess mat (a cheap plastic table cloth) with a tub to keep the dough contained.  I also suited her up in her long sleeved smock so we wouldn’t have to change outfits or worry about the oil staining her clothing when she was all done. If your little one tends to really get into messy play, it might be a good idea to take it outside.

Two Ingredient Cloud Dough for Toddlers

“Are you sure you want me to touch this stuff, Mom?”

Peanut ran right over when I placed the tub of dough on her mess mat. She touched it right away and then looked at me or reassurance. Once I got her really digging into it, she loved it. She kept saying, “ooo” when she touched it and liked the way she could flip it around.

Two Ingredient Cloud Dough for Toddlers

We haven’t had many sensory activities similar to this were we could talk about soft, so I really emphasized that the dough was soft. She liked that word and has been repeating it all day.

Two Ingredient Cloud Dough for Toddlers

I didn’t add any toys, spoons, or other utensils to this activity today. Since it’s our first experience with it, I just let her play. Toys and tools can be added later, after she’s had time to play with the dough itself.

Vocabulary used while we played:
“This dough is so soft!”
“Wow, it’s so fluffy!”
“It feels like a cloud.”
“You’re flipping it everywhere!”
“Mix it up!”
“Is it on your hands?”
“Touch it.”
“Boy, that is messy!”

The original poster said that she doesn’t replace her dough for months, so this is an activity you can come back to again and again!

Outdoor Crayon Rubbings for Toddlers

Simplifying this favorite activity for younger children is a great way to get a toddler-approved activity outside!

Outdoor Crayon Rubbings for Toddlers

Supplies:
Paper
Crayons

Outdoor Crayon Rubbings for Toddlers

I took our bucket of crayons outside with a few sheets of paper and put the paper on the cement. I asked Peanut if she wanted to color and she was more than happy to join me. First we colored on the concrete. Then we moved to the stair, which has some larger bumps. Then we moved to her picnic table and finally the grass.

Outdoor Crayon Rubbings for Toddlers

Peanut always took a minute to figure out why I wanted her to color in these strange places and lingered at the picnic table the longest. And she honestly spent more time dumping the crayons out of their bucket and putting them back in than she did coloring. But, she got the experience and that’s all that matters!

Vocabulary used in play: 
Crayon
Bucket
Paper
“That’s really rough when you color on it, isn’t it?”
“This surface is really bumpy!”
“The table is smooth to color on.”
“The grass is squishy, it’s hard to color on.”
“The rug is soft.”
“The bucket is loud when you drop it!”

This one is so easy and highly engaging! Get out there (in the morning before it gets too hot!) and try this one!

Hula Hoop Hop

When I found hula hoops at the dollar store that seemed more toddler-sized than big kid-sized, I knew we had to find something to do with the hoop. This activity was my first idea, but there will be more to follow!

Hula-Hoop Hop for Toddlers

Supplies:
Hula Hoop

Hula Hoop Hop for Toddlers

Even when we had the hula hoop in the cart at the dollar store Peanut was oohing and awing over it. I couldn’t wait until we got it home to play with it. When we got home, we took the hoop outside. I placed it on the ground and showed Peanut a variety of ways to interact with the hoop. We stepped in, stepped out, walked around it, tried hopping in and out. Stepping in and out and walking around the hoop was easy, but the hopping she needed help with. She’s thought about hopping for a long time, but doesn’t quite have it down.

Hola Hoop Hop for Toddlers

We also put the hoop over our head, pulled it up around us, and ran around with it. It was a challenge for her to maneuver the hoop around her body and wasn’t what I had planned for her gross motor, but it was a great addition! She also challenged herself by walking around with the hoop and even running down the hill with it at one point. Carrying it around and getting in it from time to time proved to be the most interesting part for Peanut.

Vocabulary used in play: 
“You’re in the hoop!”
“Can you get out of the hoop?”
“You’re out!”
“Get back in.”
“Let’s walk around the hoop.”
“Put it over you.”
“Lift the hoop up.”
“You’re carrying the hoop.”

Outside Shadow Play for Toddlers

shadow playPeanut has recently been discovering her shadow when we’re outside on sunny days. I’ll catch her moving her arms and watching as her shadow copies her or see her bend down to try to touch it. I thought it would be fun to build on this new discovery and play with shadows!

Supplies:
Your bodies
A sunny day
Bubbles
Ball
Any other objects with moving shadows

We went outside on a bright, sunny morning when we had clear, crisp, uninterrupted shadows for this activity. I invited Peanut to come out into the sun with me and started making big movements she would copy. Once she was copying my movements and her shadow was dancing around I pointed it out on the ground. Then I made some more big movements and told her to look at her shadow when she started copying me. Immediately she stopped and tried to stop her foot on her shadow. Then she started moving on her own watching to see if her shadow would follow her lead.

SONY DSC

In a couple of minutes she was done checking out her own shadow. I started blowing bubbles and pointing out their shadows on the ground. I told her to catch them and she tried a couple of times, but gave up pretty quickly to catch the real bubbles that popped when you touched them.

Shadow Play for Toddlers

After she was done with bubbles, I started tossing a ball in the air. This proved to be a bit hard for her to comprehend and she just watched the real-life ball instead of the shadow on the ground. I think we’ll continue to play with our shadows and work up to objects like this. Understanding shadows is a developmental stage that kiddos all reach at different points, but playing with your shadows is sure a fun way to start figuring out what the heck that thing following you around is!

Vocabulary we used while playing:
Shadow
Sun
Get it
Catch
Dance

Sticky Backyard Hunt Collage

stickybackyardhunt

I thought it was time to break out the Contact Paper again and create some more art. This time I wanted to get Peanut outside while she was creating and have her use nature to make her masterpiece.

Sticky Backyard Hunt Collage for Toddlers

Supplies:
Contact-Paper
Your back Yard
(Optional) Duct Tape

Before we headed outside, I cut a rectangular piece of construction paper and stripped it of it’s backing. It was a pretty windy day, so I started the activity with some toys holding the contact paper down, but as Peanut carried them away a short while later, we didn’t really even need it anyway.

SONY DSC

I took Peanut out into the yard and found a leaf on the ground and pointed it out to her. I helped her pick it up and we took it back to our Contact Paper waiting on the patio for us. I showed her how to stick it down and press it onto the paper. Then I asked her if she wanted to put more on her picture and she took off to find something else. I could tell she was looking for something, but I really had to help her pick out things she could pick up and use on her collage. I’d point them out, she’d pick them up, and I’d direct her back to her collage on the patio. Usually she just threw the treasure down and started to walk away again, so I would remind her to come back and push it down.

SONY DSC

 

Her favorite thing to add to the collage was flowers she was able to pick fresh off the plant. She went back several times to get more flowers, repeating “flowers!” all the way there and back.

Sticky Backyard Hunt Collage for Toddlers

She didn’t get tons on her collage before she was done and wanted to get in the sand box…but I think it’s beautiful! I added another sheet of contact paper to the back when we got inside and had to reinforce the edges with duct tape because of the rather large stick she added. When it was complete, I had her help me hang it on the fridge where she could look at it. To my surprise, when Daddy got home that night she ran right over to get it off the fridge and show him. :)

Vocabulary we used while playing:
Outside
Sticky
Leaf
Stick
Flower
brown
Yellow
Green
White

 

Sandbox Play with Kitchen Tools

Kitchen Utensil Sandbox Play for Toddlers

Peanut loves to watch me cook in the kitchen. I know she wants to help so badly, but there aren’t a lot of tasks she can do yet to really get her helping. I wanted to create a play activity where she could explore some of the utensils she saw me using in the kitchen. Combining her love for the sandbox and some old kitchen utensils made an activity she didn’t want to give up.

Supplies:
A variety of old (toddler-friendly) kitchen utensils or grab some from the dollar store
A sandbox full of sand

Kitchen Utensil Sandbox Play

When I collected my utensils, I tried to keep in mind what she’d be doing with the tools. I wanted thing she could use to dig, pour, sift, and manipulate the sand. I also wanted her to be able to use the tools as they were designed in the kitchen, as though she was cooking. Peanut ended up with a sugar shaker, measuring cup, wooden spoon, whisk, and ____________.

Kitchen Utensil Sandbox Play

We came outside and I simply tossed the kitchen utensils in the sandbox and she was off and running. I named each item and showed her a brief model of how to use it if she wasn’t quite sure. Once she had the stuff figured out, she was done with me! She’s such an independent player! She dug and mixed and cooked until I decided it was too hot to stay out much longer. Then, I just tossed the kitchen utensils in her outdoor bucket to play with again later!

Tool Band for Toddlers

Tool Band for Toddlers

I had the idea for this activity when my parents were in town. My dad had Kennedy outside helping him with the garage sale while my mom and I were inside painting trim. I heard some ridiculously loud banging and shrieks of excitement outside and and to go investigate. That’s when I discovered Papa and Kennedy banging away on some extra tools we had for sale. I couldn’t believe how long I heard the commotion going on and couldn’t wait to play some music with her again.

Supplies:
A variety of relatively clean, toddler-safe tools such as sockets, wrenches, and screwdrivers

Tool Band for Toddlers

I love wrench sets for this activity because they provide such a musical aspect to the play. With each increase in size, the sound it makes changes leaving your toddler crazily switching back and forth between wrenches to see what sound they make.

We did this activity inside today because it was getting too hot outside to stay out for very long. Really, it’s best done outside on concrete where the ground can help become part of the instruments. I wouldn’t do this activity on any hard flooring inside unless you want your next major project to be reflooring!
Be sure the tools aren’t too heavy for your kiddo so you don’t end up with any squished fingers…and be careful they’re not getting used as weapons!Since we were inside I had peanut banging all the tools together to make all kinds of fun sounds. She loved exploring the different sounds she could make. While she was outside with my dad the last time she played tool band, they were banging tools on the ground, dropping them, rolling them, and seeing how many different ways they could make sounds. It was so much fun! While you can still play inside, outside is just much better!

Vocabulary:
tool
band
music
loud
soft
drop
hit

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