Today’s post is a short one, with a really easy, free idea to keep kids entertained outside. It worked very nicely with children aged between 2 and 5 on this occasion, but could be equally suitable for any primary-aged child. This activity lets children explore outside and develops their imagination. It is a loosely structured activity which gives them a focus, but is not too controlled. It could also be used as an indoor activity for a rainy day.
We spent the last week at Mum’s and have had a brilliant time. We caught up with friends and their kids and even managed a MASSIVE family party with all the Aunts, Uncles and cousins, (save those who live abroad) plus all their other halves and children. It was a brilliant (if somewhat manic at points!) week. As usual when I head back out to the country, Munchkin had a lot of outdoor time; on her own, with grown-ups and with other kids. Many outdoor games and activities took place, some structured, some not. We had an Easter egg hunt; played in the ‘Tomliboo bush at the bottom of Grandma’s garden; played football; played hide and seek; played chase; went fossil hunting and generally had a great time.
One morning, a friend of mine from school came to visit and brought her family with her. She has one girl a year older than Munchkin and one the same age. My cousin’s daughter was also staying and she is a bit younger than Munchkin. To begin with the three girls were happy just tearing about in the garden. After a while they needed some more adult input and Hubby spent a long time playing hide and seek with them. They then spent a bit more time just hurtling about and then the oldest one asked me, “What is there we can play with?” Mum and I had just been discussing the lack of outdoor toys and so I put my mind to work…
I rooted around in Mum’s shed thinking that there must be something I could give the kids to play with that would keep them entertained. Spades and flowerpots seemed a little dangerous, unless my Mum wanted her garden landscaped by pre-schoolers! I looked at the various sizes and shapes of wood and stone and also decided there were too many issues with arming the average under-five with a potential weapon! Then I saw a couple of boxes and said to the girls, “Let’s see what we can do with these!”. At this point, I was not sure what I was going to suggest, but I have been teaching long enough to know that if you say it with enough conviction, you can get the kids on-side with almost anything!
Anyway, as I dragged the boxes out, I hit on an idea: “Let’s make a treasure chest!”. So I, very roughly, taped the two boxes together so that they hinged and then gave the kids felt tips with which to decorate the treasure box. When they got bored of decorating I then sent them off into the garden to collect treasure. They let their imaginations run wild and we snail shells, stones, flowers and a fairy crown among the treasures!
Older children could have spent time creating a more decorative or realistic treasure chest, especially if they’d been armed with more craft materials. Their treasures may also have been a bit more inventive, or they could have been encouraged to create things out of the natural materials they collected.
It was great fun to see the girls playing together in a way younger children are sometimes less able to do. The activity encouraged them to work together towards a common goal, and even if there were a few little squabbles (“done colour on my bit!”) the overall outcome was that they worked together.