VALUE: Spending time outdoors together playing in the natural environment.
One of the greatest benefits of living rural is the endless outdoor space available for play. However, we all know that the country weather and in some cases-nasty creatures combined with distance and the possible lack of nearby facilities can affect the best made plans when organising play activities for our little learners. So, today I’m sharing 8 simple *open ended play ideas for the ‘Country Mama’ that caters for both outdoor and indoor learning fun at home.
BUILDING WITH NATURE – children love building. Creating a practical and safe outdoor space on your property that provides children with the opportunity to explore and discover nature eg. Sticks, rocks, mud, dirt, hay, plants, animals along with a mowed path of grass for nature walks etc, can be one of the greatest places of pleasures for rural families. One of our favourite ideas for open ended outdoor play with nature is mud kitchens. Mud kitchens are simply an outdoor kitchen suitable for young children that lends itself to play.
LOOKING AT WILDLIFE – Australia is home to some marvellous wildlife and looking at it with a magnifying glass is nothing short of an amazing experience. Provide your children with a magnifying glass and be blown away by what they find. Remember to provide supervision in case your little ones find some nasty creatures. You may like to create a bug catcher and see what learning takes place with these tiny little critters.
WATER PLAY – during the warmer months (pending drought situations) playing with water is an ideal activity for little learners. It is a fun sensory activity that allows children to develop hand-eye coordination along with maths and science concepts. We love using recycled plastic materials in water play eg. Yoghurt containers, yoghurt sachet lids, funnels, margarine containers, pouring containers, buckets and milk cartons. Here are a few more ideas to extend water play.
STAR GAZING – Star gazing can be an incredible activity for little ones to enjoy. Set up a blanket and bring out a thermos to make hot chocolates along with some sleeping bags. Lie down and talk about the stars and constellations. You may even extend this play to creating star and constellation artworks and crafts.
PICNICS – are a great way to enjoy the warmer weather, be at one with nature, jazz up a meal time and/or recharge the batteries. Here are some of our favourite picnic ideas. along with some of our favourite recipes:
- zucchini fritters
- strawberry and mandarin muffins
- bacon, herb and cheese impossible pie
- crispy chicken strips, sweet potato wedges and tomato salad
MESSY SPAGHETTI – so we know messy play isn’t every Mums cup of tea – it is messy and time consuming. For those that attempt messy spaghetti, find a time that bests suits you and the family. This play experience is definitely one for outside and in play/housework clothes.
SMALL WORLD PLAY – Small world play is creating a real life scene for play by using miniature items eg, animal figures, plants, buildings etc. The main aim with this type of play is for children to act out ideas from real life or re-create familiar stories. Often sensory items are added to small world play to enhance the rich learning environment. Check out these small world play ideas to help you get started with this idea. The possibilities with this type of activity are endless.
TREASURE/SCAVENGER HUNT – Treasure/Scavenger hunts are an ideal activity for those with multiple children or when hosting a playdate. It is a great way to revise learning concepts, develop critical thinking particularly when following a series of clues as well has have some fun. Here are some of our favourite treasure/scavenger hunt ideas.
*Open-ended play is a term often used in educational settings to describe play that is led by the child, their imagination and creativity. It is play with no right or wrong nor set outcomes.
Now we know there is a wealth of knowledge and experience amongst “The Country Mama’ community…so over to you Mums – what play experiences have you set up that have engaged your children? Pop them in the comments below.
About The Author
Erin is a Mum of two, wife and Primary School teacher as well as the Owner of Nappy Cakes by Erin and the Founder of //celebrate play//. She lives a very busy, yet simple and enjoyable life in Sydney. Her greatest passions are family, organisation, gift-giving, helping others, celebrating events and lifelong learning. You can find her at Nappy Cakes By Erin, follow her on Facebook, join the Celebrate Play Facebook group or email firstname.lastname@example.org