“It’s hard to imagine how this next generation is going to save the environment if they haven’t actually spent time in it. Play outdoors.”

After reading this quote a little while ago, it has stayed with me ever since. There is a huge push in the Early Childhood Sector to support and foster a love of our natural world, processed and natural materials, sustainability and reusing, recycling and loose parts.

As parents, we never want our children to go without, but it can be a double edge sword when we look past what’s right in our backyard and neighbourhood. Children don’t always need ‘toys’.

Just last Saturday afternoon, my Ms3 and I went for a walk up the road to buy bread. As we walked (dawdled) our way home, we started looking at the wild flowers in the grass, picking and smelling them; we then had a look at the flowers in people’s gardens. Simple- yes. Educating- yes.

Here are 5 more simple and (FREE!) ideas:

  1. Go on a neighbourhood walk. Look for feathers, gumnuts, seeds, different leaves. Dawdle. Chat and soak it all in.
  2. Get messy. Mud play is brilliant for learning. It’s connects children with their senses, its open ended which means the mud- it can (and will) become whatever it needs to be in the play!
  3. Listen. Sit outside and listen to the sounds. The birds, like traffic, people talking.
  4. Plant some veggies, herbs or flowers. Allow children to be the leader of this process. Talk about what you’re doing, how the plants grow, why they need water, what you can do with them once they are grown.
  5. Recycle. Start collecting old food boxes and look at craft ideas. What can a box become- a small box can become the head of a robot, a medium box could be a vessel for a teddy and a big box- well the world is their imagination with a huge box!

Connecting with nature doesn’t have to be overwhelming and it’s something I’m sure almost every parent is doing with their child. After 13 years, I’m yet to meet a child who doesn’t love their outside environment! Also, if you’re really, really stuck for ideas- go hunting for worms. They LOVE them.