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When toddlers are outside exploring the world it is important for them to do so while awakening their five senses. As a teacher, I saw firsthand how my students were multi-sensory learners and had different learning styles in the classroom. Toddlers are no different. In addition to simply seeing objects in nature, there are so many benefits when they are also able to touch, taste, hear, and smell what they are exploring.
Using your five senses helps, not only with language development (just think about all of the adjectives they are learning as you and your child describe the objects they are examining!), but also with cognition and avoiding misconceptions later in life. Just think if a child has never looked or touched an insect up close. Maybe they have the notion that all bugs bite or that they can talk just like the ones on T.V. By exploring them with a parent, they can get a firsthand account of how light insects are, the way that the move, how gentle they can be, and so on.
Think about ways that you can explore with your child during the any of the four seasons. There is so much out there to inspect and experience as they grow. Below is a list of 45 ideas that will give you some inspiration they next time you head outdoors!
1. Go on a sound hunt. ~Inspiration Laboratories
3. Grab a pair of binoculars and encourage bird watching.
5. Lie in the grass and watch the clouds go by.
7. Blow bubbles.
8. Visit the Farmer's Market.
9. Catch fireflies.
10. Play "I Spy" while you're lounging by the pool.
11. Fly a kite on a windy day.
13. Dig in the dirt.
15. Sit on the porch and watch the rain fall.
16. Make a wind chime to hang on the porch.
20. Listen to the water bubbling as you are dipping your toes.
21. Go on a bug hunt.
22. Take a nature walk (7 different ways!). ~Cultivated Lives
23. Snap pictures during your walk.
25. Pick berries and taste them along the way.
26. Play in the mud (with reptiles!). ~Little Moments
27. Dig in the sand.
28. Paint with items found in nature, like leaves or flowers.
29. Plant herbs.
31. Create a nature collage on contact paper. ~Adventures in Reading with Kids
32. Build something with ice cubes. ~Train Up a Child
33. Create a list of items found in nature and go on a scavenger hunt.
34. Have fun with an outdoor color match. ~Inner Child Fun
35. Read a book while being warmed by the sun.
36. Ask your child to paint a picture of something in your backyard - a flower, a cloud, or even a tree.
37. Sing songs (or nursery rhymes) relating to nature while you take a stroll down the street.
39. If you find flowers, toss them in water and make a flowers pool! ~SunnyDayTodayMama
41. Enjoy fruit smoothie popsicles on a warm day! ~Raise a Boy
42. Make a whistle with a blade of grass. ~Like Mama ~ Like Daughter
44. Walk barefoot in the grass.
45. Create a nature display in a jar. ~The Golden Gleam
So, be sure to remember to help your child awaken their five senses the next time you head outdoors to play or explore. I would love to hear any additional ideas that you have to add to our list!