Warm days, cool ideas
From birth, children learn about the world by touching, tasting, smelling, seeing, and hearing. Even the most simple backyard offers a wealth of stimulation to the senses - a huge sky, soft breeze, rustling leaves, buzzing insects and the smells of soil and grass.
I always loved parking my babies in their prams under a shady backyard tree to let them gaze in fascination at the patterns of leaves against the sky. Later on, growing children need and enjoy sensory play, and the outdoors is a perfect place to explore with all their senses. Sandpits are terrific, but even an old ice-cream tub full of sand will be a hit. Children who play with sand and water are exposed to lots of sensations — warm or cool, wet or dry, rough or smooth, hard or soft, textured or slimy.
Here are some more ideas for cool backyard play as the weather heats up.
- Offer a pot of water and a big paintbrush or two, and let your child pour and paint a cool masterpiece on the fence, the decking, the path, themselves... whatever. They can even paint their own shadow.
- For more colourful masterpieces tape some pieces of paper to the fence or wall, and add a tray of paint to the mix. Clothes optional!
- Dilute children's paint and freeze into iceblocks. Make marks as it melts onto paper or cardboard laid on the ground.
- Children can find ice fascinating. Place ice cubes or a bag of ice into a large shallow tub, in a sandpit or onto the grass in the shade. Add plastic animals, cups, scoops and anything else you can think of and watch a child’s imagination go wild!
- Try freezing plastic animals inside ice cubes or small containers of water, and let children play as the melting ice sets them free.
- Freeze water in a balloon. How fast does it melt? How does it feel?
- Freeze pieces of fruit or fruit juice in ice trays, try different shapes for added interest, add to water for a refreshing drink on a hot day.
Remember: be sun smart and water safe. If you are using a container of water, don’t forget to empty it when the play is finished and always watch your children when playing around water.