When you want to keep your child engaged at home, it can be tough to come up with ideas that are solely based indoors. If you and your kids are itching to get outside, but you want to make sure they’re staying engaged and learning new things, here are a few easy activities you can do right in your own backyard.
Nature walks are one of the best activities to incorporate educational lessons into. Whether you’re walking around your own block or you go to your favorite local hiking trail, this is an excellent time to help your kids learn more about the world around them. Before you go on your nature walk, do a little bit of research beforehand. You could look up facts about local flora and fauna, general nature facts, or even cool spots near your house. While you’re on your walk, have some of your research at the ready to share as you pass plants and animals you have facts about. For example, when you pass a tree on your walk, share that a single tree can produce almost 260 pounds of oxygen in a single year. This fact could lead to a conversation about how trees help us breathe and keep the air clean. Sharing little tidbits like this might not feel formally educational, but learning through seeing and experiencing can be just as effective as classroom lessons.
Texture Scavenger Hunt
If you want to help your child expand their vocabulary and continue to develop their fine motor skills, a texture scavenger hunt is the perfect activity to plan. The best part? You can do this activity with minimal prep and with materials right from your own backyard. The morning that you want to do this activity, gather up a few items of varying textures from your lawn and put each one into a brown paper bag. For example, you could have a pinecone in one bag, some moss in another, and a stick or smooth stone in your last bag. How many and which items you choose are both up to you! Once you have your materials prepped, ask your kids to reach into a bag and tell you about what they feel using texture words. After that, have them go into the yard and bring you something that has a similar texture to what they just felt. Repeat this with each item and you have an awesome educational activity for a warm morning or afternoon.
Gardening might seem like a simple activity without much educational merit, but the truth is there’s so much to learn when you involve your child in gardening. You can take this opportunity to share facts about watering plants and rainfall — consider sharing facts like how in 2018, Washington D.C. experienced rainfall way above the average of 40.5 inches. Ask your child to think about how that much water would affect plants that really don’t need that much. If you grow vegetables in your garden, you could also take this opportunity to teach about life cycles. The soil feeds plants, which feed animals, which feed the soil again after they die. Gardening is also great for sensory learning and building hand and finger muscles. You could even teach some bug facts if you encounter insects like ants, ladybugs, bees, or worms in your garden.
If you’re really stuck for ideas on educating your kids outdoors, even driving to a local spot and soaking in the natural environment can be great. Considering four in 10 people love their cars and kids love car rides more often than not, making the trip to get outside will likely be well worth it. Pay attention to your child’s natural curiosity and use it as an opportunity to educate outdoors.