Seasonal Play Ideas
At Playschool, we believe that FREE PLAY is so important for children's mental health and development. Do not underestimate the importance of letting your child poke with sticks, mix up mud, and just explore outside! Imagining new worlds can sometimes begin with boredom. But we also know that sometimes we need new ideas to get our kids (and ourselves) up off the couch. We hope that these open-ended activity suggestions help!
New This Month
- Pattern your play after the Blue Room by creating artwork and patterns out of natural materials. Make a sequence like the one shown to the left or a large scale artwork like the one shown below.
- This is a great craft to make for Mother's Day or for anyone special in your life. Have your child paint their foot and then step carefully onto a canvas or paper to create wings. Once dry, use marker to make a body and add a name or sweet message. Thanks to Plain Vanilla Mom.
Bee A Pollinator
- At our Earth Day celebration, we made butterflies and bees out of pompoms, popsicle sticks and pipe cleaners, and then flew them over to add "pollen" paint to flower artwork. You can find bee a pollinator directions here.
- Your child can also "bee" the pollinator themselves! Use finger paint to buzz back and forth between a paint dish and a paper on which you have sketched the outline of a flower.
- If you have fairy wings or butterfly wings in a dress up box this is the time to get them out!
Spring Play & Earth Day
The best thing we can do for the Earth this month is to be aware of our actions - how are we teaching our children to treat the plants, animals, water, soil, and other people in our ecosystem? How are we all connected? Playing outdoors, exploring the textures and things we find (like bugs under a rock or a bright dandelion), and learning to appreciate them is a great way to start. Poking around in mud and puddles, re-directing water from one puddle to another, splashing...it's all learning and exploring about cause and effect. And stomping in puddles gets those big muscles working too!
- "Where Does the Water Go"? One way to draw attention to where the water is going is to trace a chalk outline on a driveway or sidewalk. Outline a rivulet and see how it always heads downhill. Outline a puddle and come back after lunch on a sunny day. Has the puddle gotten smaller? What happened? No rain, no problem - start your child off with a bowl of water and some toys that can get wet. When the water spills chalk can be the next activity.
- A favorite activity is making "rainbow soup" with a leaf or petal of every color. Don't forget to feed the soup to your favorite stuffed animal in an outdoor picnic! Want to take it further? Introduce the idea of a food web while your child and animal friends are making "soup" or snacking.
- To get wiggles out while also observing the animals around us, encourage slithering like a snake, hopping like frog, wriggling like a worm, etc. For more challenge make an obstacle course - use chairs indoors, or sticks or a chalk path while outdoors.
Here are crafts that help connect the dots between ourselves and our environment:
- Go on a scavenger hunt for fresh spring textures and colors, then create these pretty Wind Chimes made with mason jar rings. Noticing and naming phenomena like wind and rain is a developmental milestone, and also grounds us in our environment.
- Here's our favorite recipe for Earth Day "Seed Bombs". Fun to make, and fun to throw!
- We love the 20 different DIY Bird Feeders ideas found here. From macrame to old teacups to popsicle sticks and tin cans, there are materials and ideas for any family looking for an indoor activity.
- Egghead Seed Starters. Just plant the grass seeds in eggshells and watch the hair grow. You can even use these eggheads as seed-starter pots because they are biodegradable and full of calcium for your plants! Project and images from KiwiCo. Read more here.
Ice Cube Treasures
- Find an ice cube tray, muffin tin, or several small containers such as yogurt cups. Ask your child to find a small object to place in each one, such as a small pinecone, stick or evergreen leaf. If you choose to make this an indoor activity, it’s fine to use colored paper, scraps of ribbon, or even small unbreakable “treasures”. One challenge is to find an object in every color of the rainbow! Another challenge is to use scissors or clippers to make small pieces to fit in the cups, which utilizes fine motor skills.
- Fill the tray with water and leave it to freeze outdoors. Alternatively, you can use the freezer. Waiting for it to freeze can be hard, but it is part of the learning process and can be a prompt to talk about waiting for other things they want, such as a snow day or a treat. For slightly older children, it is also a good chance to introduce the scientific idea of predicting what will happen in an experiment, and how the liquid water will transform to a solid ice cube.
- When frozen, help your child get the ice cubes out of the containers. They can then hit them with hammers or sticks to break them apart, build towers, or feel them melt in a sensory bin indoors. Or who knows what they will come up with!
Christmas Tree Re-Imagined
Recent activities by the Purple Room have us entirely re-thinking their role! And of course any kind of dead branches or weeds in your yard can serve the same purpose as an old Christmas tree.
- Practice cutting branches with real tools: Scissors can be used on needles, clippers or loppers on small branches, and even a saw on the bigger limbs. The cut branches can lead to other kinds of dramatic, imaginative play. Using sharp tools does need careful oversight, but children can tell when they are being trusted with real tools and usually respond responsibly. Create clear rules for their safe use, and if the rules cannot be followed then calmly explain that tools are not toys, and will be put away until they can be handled responsibly.
- Decorate the tree for birds and other wildlife: Make a pinecone/peanutbutter/birdseed treat, or string popcorn, dried cranberries or thinly sliced apple and hang it on the tree as a tasty ornament for squirrels. Cut tiny bits of yarn and use as tinsel. See if birds take it for their nests.
We love the Nature Valentines on How Wee Learn!