Nature play is making a major comeback. It has so many developmental benefits and, of course, there’s also the element of having so much fun.
Let’s take a look at the benefits nature play has to your baby’s development.
The benefits of nature play
Children have a natural instinct to bond with nature and from the earliest beginnings, they will seek out any opportunity to explore nature. It is a natural response: as you place your baby on the grass in the park, the first thing they do is start picking up leaves, pulling at the grass, and playing in the dirt.
They start exploring.
Nature play helps your baby build both fine and gross motor skills, along with assisting with their cognitive development. Little direction is required with nature play and the best thing you can do is provide the natural elements and then let them experiment.
Outdoor play in nature is not only fun but extremely beneficial for your baby’s development. We have some simple, creative and fun ideas you can try introducing to your child.
Nature trays activity
Set up a tray with some dirt (free from small debris) and large plastic animals and allow small hands to explore the texture of the dirt and bang, bury and re-discover the animals through the dirt.
You can also turn an old tyre or plastic wading pool into a planter with grass and allow your baby’s little hands and feet to explore the feel of grass.
Tip: Make the environment more interesting by adding in toy animals, trucks and cars.
Nature “feely” box activity
Go for a hunt throughout your local park and look for dried leaves, sticks with rough and smooth exteriors, pine cones, feathers or moss. Place them all in a box and allow your baby to pull them out and feel their different textures.
Leaves and flowers
Place some leaves and flowers in between two sheets of clear contact paper and seal together. You can then place them on the wall, down low, for babies to touch and explore, or you can tape to the floor for your baby’s easier access.
Allow your baby to experience snack time outside. They can listen to the different sounds and watch the busy world of wildlife around them. Let your little one pick at the grass with their bare hands or take their shoes off and feel the grass between their toes. You could also use this time to run leaves, flowers of feathers up and down their arms and legs and let them enjoy the different feelings from the different textures.
Place some flower petals or a variety of leaves into a water play tray and let your baby swirl them around while watching flowers float about in the water.
Messy nature play
Place tubs of sand or mud out on the grass for your baby to explore with their little hands. This is such a great way for your baby to explore the various textures of natural materials. Of course, your baby will probably go further to climbing into the tubs and really enjoy the experience.
Remember, it’s important to always supervise your baby’s play and whenever possible offer them larger items to play with that don’t pose a choking hazard, as with babies…all things tend to go in their mouth.
There are so many great reasons to join a playgroup. One is that many playgroups provide nature play opportunities for your child. A playgroup could be the place where you and your baby find a friendly and welcoming community to grow in together.
Find a Playgroup near you today.