Get Outside and Play!
Encouraging Toddlers To Take Time Away From Screens and Reconnect With Nature
We recently conducted a survey to see how much time toddlers are spending outside, compared to the time spent in front of screens.
The data discovered that 31% of children aged 2-5 get 3 hours or less outdoor time per week on average. This is in comparison to the same number (31%) that get 2-3 hours of screen time per day.
Although there is definitely a place for technology amongst younger generations, with the world becoming increasingly digital, outdoor time is still vital for connecting children to nature, something that is a must as we strive to become more eco-conscious.
With 29% of parents not setting limits on the time their little ones have in front of screens, we are at risk of children becoming disconnected from the natural world in favour of what they consume through their digital devices.
We gave UK parents a list of everyday outdoor activities, asking them to tick off all that their toddlers have experienced to date.
It was revealed that 44% of toddlers have never held a bug, 36% haven’t collected sticks, 35% have yet to dig in mud and 30% haven’t fed ducks, all arguably priceless childhood experiences.
At Kiddi Caru we love outside play! All of our day nurseries and preschools have fantastic outdoor spaces that are perfect for aiding children’s physical and mental development. We encourage their curiosity with wildlife and nature, being an integral part of growing up.
100% of UK parents who participated in the survey agree that outdoor play is important to the development of children, and 93% think children are spending too much time on screens, so we want to help!
What are the benefits of outdoor play?
Aid Better Sleep
Parents that have been battling to get their little ones to sleep through will be pleased to know fresh air and sunshine, as well as the addition of exercise, makes babies and toddlers sleep better, according to research.
Babies and toddlers learn through their five senses. Outdoors provides a multi-sensory place to play and have new experiences with unfamiliar sights, sounds, smells and things to touch.
The great thing about nature is that it is always changing too, forever giving little ones something new to explore and learn.
Helps Develop Motor Skills
Babies, toddlers and young children are learning to use all parts of their body in new and exciting ways. From walking, to jumping and pincer grips. Outdoors gives multiple opportunities for children to develop their gross and fine motor skills with a whole new range of textures and environments that present new challenges that test their skills.
Being outside allows children to become more physically active, as the wide open spaces encourage them to run, jump, roll and crawl their way through different spaces. There are also other health benefits such as Vitamin D exposure. Too many children are deficient in this vital vitamin that aids growth, so by adding more outside time to their weekly routine you are helping them get the nutrients they need to thrive and develop.
Giving children the opportunity to explore nature will help them grow up to become more environmentally aware. This can have a knock-on effect in other aspects of their life such as being more conscious of energy consumption and ensuring they dispose of litter and recycle responsibly.
What Can You Do With Your Toddlers Outside?
Now spring has sprung the sun is starting to come out, we have put together a list of activities that are great for introducing little ones to outdoor play, making going outside a fun prospect, rather than a forced time away from screens.
I-Spy in The Wild
A game that is often dismissed as being a way to pass time on long car journeys, however when out and about a simple game of I-Spy can become a great learning exercise and a way to get children excited by their natural surroundings.
As children aged 2-5 will be in various stages of learning their ABCs you will need to adapt the game of I-Spy. So, instead of asking them to spot something that begins with a certain letter, you can instead focus on a feature or a sound for younger players. For example something that is blue, something that is big or something that flies.
This will still allow toddlers to learn about wildlife, but in a way that is exciting and accessible, yet challenging.
Natural Salt Dough Imprints
Playdough is wonderful stuff for sparking a child’s imagination, it can take the form of a monster, their favourite animal, a tree and much more. But instead of being cooped up at the kitchen table playing with it, take the fun outside and explore the textures of nature.
This is a brilliant way of bridging the gap for little ones that prefer craft-based activities and outdoor play. This activity involves double the fun as you can make your own eco-friendly salt dough before heading out, download our Lavender Salt Dough Recipe sheet to find out how.
Once the salt dough is made, cut into squares or discs and place into a sandwich bag. When out and about with the little one, encourage them to press the dough against interesting textures, such as a jagged rock or wrinkly tree bark.
This will show toddlers the different patterns that can be found in nature and when you get home you can review the imprints made and quiz your child about which items made which patterns.
Nature Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger hunts bring out the adventurer in all children. They almost turn into tiny pirates hunting for buried treasure, except this treasure is the wonderful things found in nature.
Use a sheet of different wildlife to find, allowing them to tick off each things as they come across it on their journey outside.
Choose a mix of creatures and items they are familiar with, as well as a few things they can learn along the way. You can also mix specific names with more generic descriptions so they can truly explore their surroundings as they tick things off the list.
If you don’t have the means to create your own scavenger hunt sheet, you can download and print our Nature Scavenger Hunt Activity Sheet.
Make a Mini Wildlife Wonderland
With such busy lives and schedules it can become a little difficult to visit the woods, a park or even a field most days, but outside play time can be just as beneficial in your own back garden.
If you have a practical and functional garden with grass, paving and a shed, finding wildlife that sparks the interest of your little one may be slightly sparse.
A remedy for this is to help them create their own miniature wildlife wonderland they can access at any time and observe.
With just a few different objects such as a yoghurt pot, a log and compost inside a window box, your toddler can watch as the space fills with creepy crawlies and different type of plants.
Follow our Mini Wildlife Wonderland instructions to make your own.
All Kiddi Caru Day Nurseries and Preschools have exceptional outdoor spaces and fully encourage little ones to spend time outside, want to see for yourself? Why not book a visit to one of our nurseries near you!