Kids and gardens are a match made in heaven. There are a multitude of reasons to encourage your children to play outdoors.
Children’s outdoor play nurtures creativity and patience and builds muscle strength.
It sets the stage for learning from nature, as children have endless questions to ask.
Children’s bodies get the chance to manufacture essential Vitamin D from the sunlight.
Kids sleep better after venting their energy in outdoor play spaces.
Being in contact with nature will make topics like climate change, global warming and sustainability more relevant to them.
Encouraging your kids to play outdoors while you watch through the window will free up a bit of peace and quiet for you to relish alone or with a spouse or friend.
You get to enjoy the adorable sight of their excited faces: wind-rumpled hair, round, rosy cheeks all smeared with mud, and eyes bright with exertion!
Here are some nature play ideas that will encourage your kids to get outdoors, breathe the fresh air and revel in nature. If you don’t have a garden, don’t despair – ask a sympathetic friend or family member if you can camp out in theirs, or pick activities you can do in the local park.
1. Decorate plant holders. Use waterproof craft paint to beautify plant pots, old gumboots, plain old crockery, or anything else that could hold a plant. Use a sturdy clay pot for mosaic decorating.
4. Make prints on large sheets of paper with flowers and leaves. Save the paper to use for crafts and wrapping gifts.
5. Let them water. Kids love playing with water, so arm them with a hosepipe or small watering can and let them nurture your beds.
6. Plant a herb or veggie mini garden. Use garden pots or planting boxes. Kids love taking care of plants, especially when the size of the bed is manageable and unintimidating. And they are very proud if they get the chance to harvest their own organically grown food!
7. Together, create a gorgeous display with flowers and a hanging basket. Ask your kids for their input on where to display it.
8. Hold a race to see who can collect the biggest pile of dried leaves. Have a cut-off time for the competition, and prizes of varying sizes for everyone, with the best prize going to the owner of the biggest pile. Leaf piles can be composted or used as mulch.
9. Craft wreaths with your kids. Let them decorate their rooms with their creations.
10. Create fantasy gardens with colored pebbles, sticks, shells, plant pots, and anything else that takes your fancy. The sky’s the limit!
11. Start an earthworm farm. Kids are fascinated by little crawling creatures, so get hold of some earthworms and let your children help you do worm composting.
Now that you’re stocked up with exciting ideas, gather your flock, go forth, and enjoy!
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.