Spring is just around the corner and with the new season comes longer, warmer and brighter days filled with opportunities for exploration, new activities and development. Spending time outdoors with your children is a great way to remain active, learn new skills and have fun!
No matter the size of your outdoor space, there are many ways you and your child can spend time outside together with nature. Here are some ways to get your children involved in the garden and some activities to do together.
First thing first – make sure your outdoor space is safe, secure and child friendly. This means ensuring there’s no rubble or sharp objects that can cause injury, making sure gates and fences are secure and child-proof and making sure chemicals such as fertilisers and weed killers are out of reach.
Allocating space for your child will encourage them to get involved and nurture their sense of independence and responsibility. Whether you give them a raised flower bed, a few small plant pots or repurpose an old sandpit or storage box, your little one will no doubt love creating their own outside haven with brightly coloured flowers or tasty produce.
Giving your children their own tools is a great way to encourage them to participate in gardening and outdoor activities. Adult gardening tools will be too heavy and big for your children to use, so invest in a gardening set for your child. Children’s gardening tools can be found in most supermarkets and are readily available online.
We recommend getting a set that includes:
There’s nothing more rewarding than nurturing and growing homegrown fruits and vegetables, and now is the perfect time of year to plant most seeds and seedlings. Growing fruits and vegetables will teach your child about where their food comes from and encourage picky eaters to explore new foods and textures.
Take your child on a trip to the garden centre and let them choose some seedlings or seeds to grow. We recommend growing strawberries, tomatoes and cucumbers for their ease and yield, or together you can try growing unusual fruits such as honeyberries or cucamelons.
Sunflowers are a childhood favourite. Their beautiful, sunny blooms and tasty seeds make them a great choice for children to grow. Having a household sunflower growing contest is a great way to create excitement and interest in gardening and children will quickly see their seeds grow into towering, yellow flowers.
Plant in a warm, sunny spot in the garden and watch them grow over the next couple of weeks. You could even plant them in pots you’ve decorated with your little one!
There are many opportunities for getting messy and in touch with nature even with a small garden and no garden.
Herbs are fresh, fragrant and great for sensory stimulation and development. Dedicate a sunny windowsill in your home to a few small pots of herbs for your child to watch grow from seeds to saplings to their very own fully grown herbs.
Gifting your child a houseplant gives your child something to look after and creates a sense of responsibility and independence. Caring for houseplants is relaxing and mindful which benefits their wellbeing.
Small house plants such as spider plants are perfect for children as they’re easy to care for, low maintenance and non-toxic for children and animals.
Using an allotment or a family member’s garden is a great opportunity for you and your child to get messy and in touch with nature. Search your local council for more information on how to request an allotment – although there is usually quite a long waiting list!
Gardening and growing plants and flowers aren’t the only way to have fun outdoors and get connected with nature. With so many beautiful local parks and gardens in the UK, there are many places to explore.
This is recommended for the more experienced outdoors person! Foraging for mushrooms and berries is a great way to bond with your child and teach them about all the wonders of nature. The UK has an abundance of wild basil, edible berries and mushrooms, but remember to be mindful and leave enough food for the wildlife.
This is a really fun and low-cost activity you can make with your little one at home! Come up with 4 – 9 bugs (and wildlife, if you’d like) and create a sheet of these bugs, with drawings, to check off as you find them during your outdoor adventures.
Read a bug and wildlife book with your child to inspire them to think of which bugs they may find during their travels. Or, if you can’t wait to get outside, we’ve created a Bug Bingo sheet for you to print off.
We absolutely love the outdoors at Kids Planet, and provide all our children with direct access to a secure outdoor play area at all times, throughout all of the seasons. Our ethos is there is no such thing as bad weather – just inappropriate outdoor clothing!
Where children don’t have direct access, we timetable outdoor activities and play in daily, or take your little ones out on trips to local forests and outdoor natural spaces where they can play, explore and connect with nature.
Outdoor play is vital to your child’s development and wellbeing and develops their sense of risk whilst building a lifelong connection and love for the outdoors and physical activity. There’s even scientific evidence that shows the benefits of outdoor play include increased self-esteem, improvements in concentration and higher levels of social interaction.