Category Archives: Outside

Chalk Roads

While writing the last post on sidewalk chalk math, I realized that I never posted about our outdoor chalk roads (or at least I can’t find the post!). This was something J did practically every day just after his little brother was born.  It allowed for outdoor play, kept him centralized to one place, and kept him well occupied with his love for all things cars!

Overtime his road system became more and more elaborate, adding specific stores, airports, parks, and parking lots to the roads just made it all more fun.  He is also becoming more capable of drawing his own roads.

If it’s too hot outside, check out our indoor version of the activity, Homemade Highways!

 

Sidewalk Chalk Math

Yup, we’re still using sidewalk chalk A LOT.  It’s still one of my all-time favorite learning tools!  It’s a great (and easy) way to create multi-sensory learning. Remember hearing about learning styles back in college?  We all have our ideal method of learning (auditory, visual, kinesthetic/tactile).  The most efficient lessons are those that utilize each learning style.

Onto the activity…

This summer, J really got into tracing his footprints onto the sidewalk.  We would trace all sorts of fun paths that he would then follow while running, jumping, skipping (or giving it his best attempt!), pushing his lawn mower or riding his tricycle.

After a few weeks of this, I decided to add some learning to the mix :)

First, I added a letter to each footprint.  J loved singing the Alphabet song while following his footprint path. Next was numbers, logically! That’s when I realized this would be great practice at counting by twos, fives, and tens.  I placed one number in each footprint and got J to call out the numbers as he jumped across. He actually learned a cute counting song from one of the Leapfrog movies that takes you through ones, twos, fives and tens. It works perfect with his footpaths.

This incorporates auditory (singing), visual (written numbers) and kinesthetic (physical movement with each number).

Here’s some other activities to do with sidewalk chalk.

Sidewalk Paint

You may have seen this post I wrote last year about entertaining a toddler with just a paintbrush and bowl of water. 

Well, this is still a winning activity with J at 3 years old.  The neighbors (age 4 and 5) have even joined in on the fun. 

So far it’s been a success at 1, 2 and 3 years old!

Pick Your Own Fruit and Vegetables

This is the season to pick your own fruit!  We’ve done this twice now.  Last year we picked apples when J was 2.5 years.  This month we picked strawberries.  This is such a great activity.  For someone like me who can’t manage to grow anything, this is the only way he’ll probably ever see for himself where our food comes from (other than the grocery story!)

He’d much rather sleep in his crib.

 

Of course he loved enjoying the reward of his hard work too! 

I’ve found this website helpful in searching for farms where you can pick your own fruit/vegetables.  They have maps of each state so you can find farms for your specific county.  For those like me who are completely ignorant about which foods are harvested in which season, they also have harvest dates for your region.

Homemade Water Table

This is something I wrote on our family blog from last summer.  It’s a great alternative to spending money on a store-bought water table.  J’s is still just as entertained this year at 3 years old as last!
 
We’re still playing with water almost every time we head outside.  I noticed that they sell water tables at all the stores but thought it was a little ridiculous to spend good money on a glorified bucket!  So we made our own water table with what we had. All it required was pulling out a flat storage box (luckily it was just lying there empty under my bed) and J’s wagon.  It’s a perfect fit!  He loves it.  And when there’s no shade, I just wheel the wagon into the garage.
I found that sand/water wheel last summer on clearance for $2.  He played with it in the tub until this summer’s homemade water table. 
Here he is trying to pour water into a dropper.  Smart boy! Pouring is easier than manipulating the dropper to fill it up.  Too bad the experiment wasn’t so successful.
He loves blowing bubbles
Pouring is much easier with a funnel!
I made some blue ice cubes that he liked scooping into the tub, stirring them, letting them melt in his hand, watching the water turn blue, and then refilling the tray to make more ice.
 

Grow Something!

This is something we did to celebrate J’s birthday last year.  He got to pick out some flowers at the store and then had some fun digging holes in the dirt, planting, filling, watering, getting dirty,… 

He planted flowers both in pots and in our front flower bed.  The potted plants didn’t do so well (I do NOT have a green thumb and had no clue what I was doing, apparently we planted way to many in the tiny pots!).  The flowers he planted in the garden did great!  All season long he could point out the flowers that he planted.  We will definitely do this again this year. 

Let your little ones help you this year as you refill your flower beds!

Age attempted: 24 months

Get Outside!!

Here’s a few outside activities your little one might enjoy!

Fun Ways to Use Sidewalk Chalk (circles, arrows)

Painting with Water

Washing the Car

Color Mixing with Ice

My Little Helper: Grocery Label list (or fun scavenger hunt)

My cousin recommended this idea after seeing J’s grocery list on this post (My Little Helper: Grocery Shopping) and we finally tried it out at the store.

Prep: I did a quick search for some of the logos of items on my grocery list, copy and paste and I’m done.  The internet makes this so simple and quick!

I didn’t pull it out at the grocery store until I knew we were about to start hitting the items on the list so basically we’d already gone through produce and meats.  J’s list also did not include everything on my list.  It was funny how he immediately knew what certain items were when I handed him the list.  Like he knew that the Yoplait logo meant yogurt or the Lactaid logo was milk. This not only keeps them busy while shopping, it was also great practice with word recognition and letter recognition.   

J really liked this, even better than the other grocery lists honestly.  I think it helped too that I gave him a highlighter to check off his list rather than the normal crayon or pen :)

For younger ones, I would put the items in the order that you’ll reach them in the store. Another thing that works well is to fold the list in half or in thirds so they are just looking at a few items on the list at a time. 

You could use this as a scavenger hunt rather than a grocery list that kids would love (which means they’re focused while you shop!).  And this would actually make the list even easier to create since it wouldn’t matter which items you included.

Age attempted: 33 months

Snow Shoveling Toddler Style

Thess pictures are from last year when J was 21 months.  We dressed him up in his winter gear, gave him a soup ladle and he was entertained “helping” dad shovel the driveway.  Maybe this simple idea will be put to use in light of the blizzard moving across the country!  Even little ones can “help”.

Color Mixing with Ice

When I was pulling up the old activities using ice, I realized that I never posted this last summer (I took a LONG break back then!).  These photos are from this past summer.   This is a great outdoor activity but a few simple adaptations can  easily bring this activity inside during the winter months and actually works well with a winter theme. 

(I honestly just copied this post from the one I wrote for our private family blog last summer.  I made very few adjustments – in italics – which is why it sounds like I’m writing from the perspective of summer…. I was!)

J’s homemade water “table” is still one of his favorite activities of the summer.  A few days ago we made yellow and blue ice cubes together.  This is an activity all in itself and a great way to teach the process of freezing. Let them fill the tray using a scooper or a medicine dropper to include some fine motor skill practice!  He’s been patiently waiting to play with them since. 

He first separated the ice cubes into bowls by color and chose to make blue water first.  I filled the tray with a small amount of water (just make sure the tray is white/clear so you can easily see the water change colors as the ice melts). He really enjoys scooping and stirring the ice cubes, letting them melt in his hands,… **Use this step to utilize motor skill practice with tongs or different size (and length) scoopers or spoons.**  I’m surprised at how long a little ice can entertain!  When he moved onto the yellow ice cubes I asked him which color the water (currently blue) would become and he of course guessed yellow.  I told him it was going to be a surprise that he’d have to wait and see.  He wasn’t convinced the water was actually green until the very end when there was no denying it.  He was sure it should be either blue or yellow! 

(Sorry, I kinda cut off his face!)


We then filled the ice cube trays with green water to play with in the future.  This activity is free, entertains a good while and recycles itself too!