Summer Brings…

Summer Brings…

Picnics and watermelon,
Bike rides and ice cream,
Friends and family,
Camping and s’mores,
Swinging and cool breezes,
Swimming and fishing,
Bugs and butterflies,
Summer fairs and carnivals,
Sunshine and gardens,
Birds and beaches,
Sand and water,
AND PLAYING OUTDOORS!

I do hope you and the kids are going outside as much as you can… If even only on the playground or in the backyard. Field trips and neighborhood walks can be difficult to conduct these days, but that doesn’t mean that you and the children can’t have lots and lots and lots of outdoor play. Did I say LOTS?! Open the door and explore outdoors. Nature abounds even on asphalt playgrounds.

Bikes, trikes and wheel toys promote gross motor development and lots of dramatic play. Just listen to the cyclists as they speed around on the bike path. Using some props, set up a gas station, car wash, or service station. Socialization, language development as well as physical activity are many of the benefits.

Want more ideas for dramatic play that can take place outdoors?

  • Have a pretend snack or lunch outside, picnic style. Make a “Picnic Prop Box” that includes a blanket, plastic food and dishes.
  • Camping is an all-time favorite activity in the summer. Pretend with a small tent, rest mat, firewood, metal dishes. Don’t forget the fishing pole!
  • Make available to your “junior rangers” or “nature detectives” magnifying glasses, binoculars, shovels, nets, observation boxes for found ants, bugs and butterflies. Collect leaves and rocks and provide containers (i.e., empty egg cartons) for them to sort, count and explore their treasures.

Gardening can also be a fun summer activity for kids. No space for a garden? Did you know you can plant seeds and grow vegetables in old tires, in giant pots, window boxes or a raised garden bed? Raised garden beds can help protect young or more fragile plants from active preschooler play. Choose plants and veggies for species diversity, various colors, different heights, textures and fragrances. Have the kids help plant and care for them. Or, you may want to purchase a simple greenhouse. Greenhouses provide a great opportunity for children to grow their own food and work with plants throughout the year.

Can’t get to the beach? Turn on the garden sprinkler or fill up the wading pools. Set up the sand and water table to include items to enhance digging, pouring, constructing, and dramatic play with sand and water. Kids love to explore sand and water with funnels, sifters, pails, molds, shovels, rakes, scoops, spoons, cups and saucers, sand wheels, trucks, plastic animals and even craft sticks. Children may want to add natural objects such as shells, sticks, stones or leaves. Fill your sensory table with only water and children will want to make bubbles, wash dishes or give the baby doll a bath.

Fresh air, open spaces and a little imagination and creativity… That’s all it takes to make time each day to be outdoors with the children, exploring, making discoveries and appreciating nature this summer season.

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