Join me on my quest to keep a toddler entertained in my garden and home, with nature as our inspiration, and with fun (and a bit of learning!) as our goal. My 2 and ½ year old will test out these simple and easy-to-do-at-home activities; we’ll let you know the results, and would love to hear how you get on, too. I’ll offer some Outdoor Learning Top Tips on how to adapt the activities for older children, and suggest what skills each activity helps you and your child explore. All the activities are simple, use mostly things you will find in and around your home, and will be free, and will hopefully help to keep you both entertained (and sane!) a they have done for me. Enjoy!
A Bottle of Nature
Get your toddler busy collecting things from around the house or garden, and make your own work of art.
Art and Creativity
What you’ll need:
- A wide necked bottle/jar (anything that is see-through should work) – do take extra care if its glass – don’t let your child drop in pebbles, etc, before you’ve layered the bottom with something soft!
- Items found around the house garden (that you don’t mind being mixed together!)
This activity is inspired by those funky shaped plastic bottles filled with layers of coloured sand I remember from childhood visits to the sea side.
Collect lots of groups of items from anywhere you can get to. It’s important you keep them separate at this stage. Alternatively, take your bottle with you, and fill it as you find things. Your child can start top put things in the bottle in layers. You’l soon start seeing the effect of the layers as you go.
Top tips (and what we learnt along the way):
- Try to mix up the colours to make a more effective work of art once you are finished.
- Try to put the ‘grainy’ things in first, such as sand, soil, etc, as they will tend to fall between bigger items and get lost, or they may cover other things up.
- If you do this entirely indoors, you could use different coloured shredded paper, buttons, even stuffed in socks! Food stuffs could be used, such as rice, flour, etc, but please do bare in mind the wastage – you won’t have much luck trying to separate it later!
We tried to collect all of the materials before putting them in the jar, but soon found that Oscar was far more interested in mixing them up, or scattering them around. We started to fill the jar as we went, and had much more success once he realised where they were going. It took a few layers for him to notice the effect, but at the end, he really seemed to notice all of the different materials he could see. A relatively short-lived activity compared to some of the others we have done, but it still felt quite effective.
For older ones –
- By pressing objects up to the side as you pour in your other materials, you can create simple images at the side. Can you make a face?
- If you decide to make one with shredded paper, or something similar, can you create a rainbow in a jar?
Thank you the National Lottery Heritage Fund for support with this content.