There can’t be too much nature in a toddler’s world.
Playing in a natural space strengthens the body. It builds skills. It nurtures the mind and calms the emotions. It teaches through natural curiosity, observing, testing, and using every sense.
And it teaches respect. Respect for this amazing planet, its beauty, wisdom and complexities. This respect is the foundation for caring about global warming, sustainability, and all the other environmental issues pressing on us today. Taking your toddler into nature is the first step in showing them how to look after the world.
Toddlers are fascinated by the outdoors, and it doesn’t take much to get them having fun.
Key ingredients for having hysterically enjoyable outdoor play times with your toddler:
A wild love of fun.
The ability to see things through your child’s eyes.
The willingness to pick, poke, collect or laugh at absolutely anything.
Natural play spaces – a park, a forest, a field, your eco organic garden, or even just a big old tree.
Snacks. Don’t forget the snacks!!
For inspiration, cycle through our list of favorite ideas… it won’t be long before you’re adding your own.
Toddlers feel like pirates on a treasure hunt when they can gather flowers, acorns, pinecones, pretty leaves and seeds, and anything else that looks interesting.
You already know they could do it for hours. Let them stomp in puddles, or take them to a local pond or stream where they can catch tadpoles, paddle in the water, feed the wild waterfowl and fishes, and wriggle their toes in the mud.
Building materials are endless outside. Create simple mud castles or get ambitious with a wigwam made from brush and sticks.
Lie on your back, watch the fluffy clouds sailing above, and let your imaginations run wild. Or, park out by a feeder or bird bath and enjoy the tiny creatures that gather there.
Touch everything that’s safe to run fingers over. Walk barefoot on grass and soft moss. Stroke trees, leaves and petals. Let bugs and caterpillars explore your palms. Crunch up dry leaves.
You already love nature. Playing in nature with your child is the best way of passing that precious love onto them. It’s an essential part of mentoring the next generation, and a habit that won’t just benefit your child: it also helps to build a better world.
Written by Rifke Hill
About the Author
Rifke Hill was raised on the sort of farm your grandparents told tales about – milking cows, gathering eggs, hoeing the soil, and building fires to heat water. She now spends part of her time copywriting online as a freelancer. The rest of it is spent nurturing and teaching her four energetic children, growing vegetables, baking bread, reading voraciously, having coffee with the neighbors, and enjoying the sunny slopes of the smallholding where she lives, in the Garden Route, South Africa.