And just like that, spring is officially over and we’ve finally welcomed summer. And with the change in season many families will also be counting down to the beginning of the much-anticipated summer holidays.
To ensure sanity is kept by all, while boredom is kept at bay, parents and guardians need to make sure that little hands are kept busy.
A recent study by Kiddi Caru Childcare discovered that 31% of children aged two-five years old are spending less than three hours outside, limiting their exposure to vitamin D and harming their development.
This is why we have put together some fantastic activities perfect for little ones, each involving being outside for some of the time, giving you the perfect opportunity to teach them about nature while they have fun.
1. Paper Tube Bird Feeder
This is a brilliant way to re-use a waste product and benefit wildlife at the same time. These easy to craft bird feeders will keep little ones entertained during the making process, and once hung in the garden, they can eagerly watch their new visitors arrive to reap the rewards of their efforts.
Here is what you will need:
- Craft/ice lolly sticks
- Peanut butter
- Bird seed
- Empty toilet paper rolls
- String or twine
The first step is to lay out everything for your little one. The seeds should be placed in a flat shallow container, such as a roasting tin. Peanut butter can be put into an airtight container to avoid seeds getting into the jar.
Next little ones, using the ice lolly sticks, should be shown how to spread the peanut butter along each side of the toilet roll cardboard tube, making sure the whole of the outside is covered (it will get messy!)
Once no bare cardboard is visible, ask your child to place the tube in the container of seeds horizontally and roll the tube back and forth. The seeds will stick to the peanut butter on the outside.
A grown up will then have to thread the string through the middle ensuring there is enough either side to tie a knot at the top, making it easy to place the feeder on a tree or fence post.
All that is left is for little ones to enjoy watching their new feathered friends come and go, until all the seeds are gone.
2. Bee Friendly Flower Ball
It’s important the parents of the next generation teach them to respect and look after bees instead of fear them. The bee population is in steep decline, which is why a fun craft that also provides a way of saving bees is the perfect way to get children passionate about these important insects.
A flower ball is a bit like a bath bomb, but instead of fizzing and releasing glittery soaps, it’s a ball of seeds and soil, promoting and spreading the growth of wild flowers in green spaces, giving bees plenty of flowers to collect pollen from.
- Mixing bowl
- British wildflower seeds
Take your mixing bowl and combine ten-parts compost to one-part flour, this helps the ball keeps its shape when formed.
Get your toddler to mix slowly while you gently add the water, you will be able to tell when you have added enough as the mixture will become sticky like dough.
Now the messy part, get your little one to roll the mixture into a golf-ball size ball.
Next, fill a tray or shallow tub with wildflower seeds and roll the mud balls around until they were covered.
Leave the finished product to dry for a day or two, then let them take the balls into the garden and throw them into empty patches of your garden and wait for the flowers to grow.
3. Juice Carton Boat
This simple craft will help transport children from being bored in a back garden to pirates sailing the high seas. Grown-up help will be needed along every step, but every good sea captain needs their first mate anyway.
By the end of this activity you’ll be able to transform an empty juice carton into the finest vessel ye landlubbers will have ever seen.
What you need:
- One litre juice carton
- Blu tack
- Card squares
- Felt tip pens
Firstly, a grown-up will have to cut one of the long sides off the juice carton, while this is being done, little ones can decorate their flags using the felt tips.
When you have the boat base, place a blob of the Blu-tack in the centre of the inside floor. Use the skewer to poke two holes in the card flag. Then once threaded, cut the sharp end of the skewer off and place a small blob of Blu-tack on the end to avoid any splinters.
The skewer, or flag pole should then be stuck into the Blu-tack already inside the carton. This gives your little ones the perfect boat. It can be used in the paddling pool, puddles and even shallow streams, but remember children should always be supervised near any source of water.
4. Summer Sensory Tray
Like every season, summer brings with it a range of new smells, sounds, sights, textures and even tastes, so it’s important to introduce toddlers to these new experiences as the season arrives.
The best way to do this in a controlled space, is to create a summer sensory tray.
All you need for this easy activity is a plastic tray or storage box to fill with a range of different objects that represent summer.
- Cut grass
- Smooth pebbles
- Water (this can either be in a jug so they can see how the textures change when wet or in a separate tray)
- Bird seeds
This tray is exclusively to touch, sight and smell, but a lunch time activity could involve making one around taste, a large food container could have different summer fruits that children can dip their hand in and try.
Try not to stick to every day fruits, throw in some new textures and tastes for them to experience, asking them to name the food if they can.
5. Nature Faces
Nature faces are perfect for those at the older end of toddler. It gives them the opportunity to adventure outdoors and find the materials need to create their own nature self-portrait.
Encourage them to find the perfect materials for the eyes, nose, mouth and hair.
They can use grass, twigs, flowers, leaves and even soil. Once they have collected a range of materials it is time to take them home and form their nature faces.
Cut out a few oval shapes from card to give your little ones a base in which to stick their facial features onto.
Ensure you have a few adhesives available. PVA glue will stick to most things, but may struggle with thicker twigs and stones, in which case a bit of sticky tape can be used to secure these to the card oval used as the base of the face.
Get the children to explain which parts of the faces they are making as they are doing them. It encourages them to use their imagination and learn about feature placement on the face.
Make sure that any glue is dried before the finished product is picked up and moved.
These are just some of the activities that can keep the little one’s busy during the summer holidays, encouraging them to spend some of that important time outside.