By Guest Blogger Shelli Scott
We all love giving our children playtime, as it’s a chance for them to relax and have fun. It also acts as the perfect chance for enrichment and learning, especially in the youngest children!
Science has found that 80% of brain growth happens before a child turns 3. The Basics Guilford outlines 5 everyday things parents and caregivers can do to support and encourage their child’s development. One of The Basics, Explore Through Movement and Play, is a fun way to establish learning, coordination and problem solving.
As summer approaches, take the opportunity to let your child get outside to explore! Getting outdoors provides a change of scenery, with unique sights, scents, and textures for your child to learn about.
While even something as simple as a walk around the block can provide great opportunities for exploration, here are some other fun activities you can try with your child:
- Create a scavenger hunt: Creating a scavenger hunt filled with simple objects that are found outside is the perfect way to help your child explore. Add things like a specific color of leaf or flower, a stick that would be perfect for splashing in a puddle, or an item that is a circle, like a sweet gum ball or a small rock. Be sure to keep an eye out to make sure they’re only collecting safe objects!
- Create nature art: Everyday objects found outside can be turned into a unique piece of art. Grab some paper and glue and have your child make different patterns or even a self-portrait by gluing common items, like leaves and sticks to the paper. You’ll have a one-of-a-kind keepsake too!
- Go to a playground: The playground is automatically filled with different equipment, colors and nature for your child to discover. Encourage them to move around the playground, try something new or even make up their own game. Don’t be afraid to join in on your child’s imaginative play!
- Stargaze or cloud watch: Let your child’s imagination run with a simple activity of stargazing or watching clouds. You’ll be surprised what they come up with! If your child sees an animal in the clouds, ask some open ended questions to get a conversation flowing: What do you think it ate for lunch today? Where do you think it came from? What is it doing now?
- Search for animal tracks: Get an online guide to identifying animal tracks, then check out a muddy spot in your yard or go to your park or nature reserve. Check out the Piedmont Discovery App on your smart phone to find a park or trail near you. Ask your toddler to look for any tracks in the mud and then check to see if you can identify what animal made it together.
- Play with water: Babies and toddlers love playing in the water. Set up your baby’s high chair outside and fill the tray with water or put a bowl full of water on the tray and let them splash in it. Take some pans, bowls, and cups of various sizes outside for your toddler and fill them with water. Let your child splash around and pour water from one container to the next. They will have fun and you can avoid needing to clean up! Fill an old ketchup bottle with water and use it to draw pictures on your driveway. Watch as it disappears!
There are so many different activities you can try with your child, but the most important part is letting them explore, move and play outside! Not only will you have fun playing with your child, but you will both get some sunshine and fresh air too.
To learn more ways to Explore Through Movement and Play and more about The Basics Guilford, visit guilfordbasics.org.
Shelli Scott is the Youth Programs Specialist for the City of Greensboro’s Parks & Recreation Department, which offers a variety of programs for young children. Learn more at greensboro-nc.gov/departments/parks-recreation/children.