Today I would like to share with you a fun nature activity that we enjoyed recently. We began our sunny morning with some outdoor exploring as spring has transformed our garden into a floral wonderland. Brightly coloured flowers, interesting gum nuts, berries and pinecones scattered throughout the garden kept Aniela captivated for the morning. We named the plants and flowers, and their colours that stood out to her. We talked about how some flowers close in the evening and move towards the sunshine, and the purpose of flowering during springtime. She was so happy and looked so cute wandering around with her flower basket, so I used the opportunity for a little photo shoot to capture this wonderful memory.
Nature really offers so many opportunities for learning and play. Since moving to Stirling our children have rarely played with their toys, even on rainy days. There is something so fun and adventurous for them when they explore the outdoors. Playing in nature has helped them develop creative freedom, a courageous spirit and involves all their senses (including their sense of motion in a way the indoors cannot).
While there is still value in some toys, I think nowadays some have become so sophisticated, expensive, specific and easily broken, which can really defeat their purpose for their little inquisitive owners! I have realised now as a mum of two how you can gain the same learning and entertainment from simple things found free in our environment. In our garden, Aniela often becomes engrossed in breaking little twigs, making little pictures from stones and throwing camelia petals into the air. Alex is at the stage at enjoying gardening skills and building things that spark his imagination. Playing outdoors also allows them to develop these tactile senses without the worry of damage that may occur indoors.
These experiences in nature help with their development and understanding of the world. For example, when Aniela breaks the twigs she is experimenting with the physical variables for a breaking point (such as width, length and flexibility) that can help her develop skills for building and creating things later on. I’m particularly impressed that many schools and councils are taking note on the importance of nature in learning and it has been wonderful to see more nature-based curriculums and playgrounds. I have been fortunate to find a playgroup that offers only nature-based play in an outdoor setting.
Now with Spring in full bloom, I highly recommend having a wander outdoors with your little ones; be it on the way to school, around the neighbourhood or in your own garden. Children love collecting things and in addition to flowers you can look around for what is in your local environment such as nuts, pebbles, twigs and interesting looking leaves. You can count, name and categorise them and even use them for a craft project. Recently we have enjoyed using pine branches as paint brushes and gum nuts as stamps. When they no longer show interest in their collection you can simply compost them or put it into green waste without having to worry about the waste of money like with abandoned toys.
Play dough recipe
To extend our nature playtime, we made some home made play dough for Aniela to get creative with the flowers she had picked. I found a great recipe here and I added a few drops of rose water that I had for an added sensory element.
- 1/2 cup salt
- 1 cup plain flour
- 2 tbs cream of tartar
- 1 cup water
- 1 tbs oil
- 3 drops rose coloured food colouring
- 1 tsp of rose water or scented oil as desired
1. Combine ingredients together and continuously mix over medium heat until the dough no longer sticks to the edge of the saucepan.
2. Cool down slightly before play to avoid burns. (Aniela loved playing with the dough while it was still warm and the dough is more pliable.)
3. Store in the refrigerator sealed in a container or plastic sealable bag.
We made two batches of dough in orange and pink and we enjoyed making little flower pots for our floral displays and little cute macarons and other little pretend cakes. Our little wander through the garden turned into a whole morning of nature and creative play and one very happy little girl.
Thank you for stopping by and I hope you have enjoyed this flower play idea for your children.
Have a lovely day,