Sensory in Nature

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Flower Stew

Keep an old pot outside for your child to use. Throw in flower petals, dandelion seeds, leaves, grass, rocks, pinecones or any other natural elements laying around your yard. They'll have tons of fun searching for ingredients for their stew and mixing it all together. Teach early culinary skills like mixing gently so nothing spills out. Teach them to measure, if you have some old measuring cups laying around that they can measure their ingredients with. A stepping stone works great as a pretend stovetop to cook stew.

Natural Paintbrushes

For this extra easy craft lay out a large sheet of paper or some cardboard. All you need are twigs, rubber bands and natural elements. Trim grass, small branches and sprigs around your yard. Ferns and evergreen work great for these brushes. Find sturdy twigs to attach your natural elements to. Use a washable finger paint for your child to dip their brush into and paint!

A disposable fork and a clothespin with a pom pom attached are also great additions to this activity. Your child will love exploring the different textures and patterns they can create with their variety of brushes.

Gardening Set

A shovel or gardening set can go a long way with outdoor play. Gardening sets are a worth while investment that can grow with your child. Teach your child where it's ok for them to dig, especially if you've just planted some beautiful flowers in your garden. Allowing your little one a safe place to explore can encourage their independence.

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Seasonal Play

Find a nearby creek to explore during the summer. Bring a towel and change of clothes. Dress your child in a swimsuit or quick dry clothing that can be splashed while your child wades through the water. Water shoes work but let them go barefoot for a bit so they can feel all of the different textures under the water like rocks and sand. If they're little, be sure to hold their hand to help them over rocks and through sandy parts of the creek. Keep an eye out for litter critters like lizards who love to sunbathe on rocks.

Don't forget a first aid kit in case they incur any little scrapes.


Creating leaf piles for your child to jump in is great sensory fun in the fall. Stomp and crunch them under your feet as well.

Nature Tips

  • Keep first aid supplies along with anti itch cream on hand for little bites and scrapes your child may incur during play.

  • A solid pair of sneakers and rain boots is all a little one needs for nature play. Always have an extra set of clothes on hand. Don't forget extra socks!

  • Trees are nature's jungle gym. During pretend play a tree stump can easily be a stage for a child. A fallen tree, perfect for a pretend horse. Holly trees are great for climbing as they have thick branches low to the ground. Always monitor your little one when climbing and ensure their safety.

  • Bird feeders are an endless venture for children. Make a bird feeder with your child or grab one at the hardware store. Encourage your child to pour the birdseed in the feeder. They will excitedly watch for birds to come to their feeder and feel so accomplished at their hard work.

  • Expect to get dirty, hot, cold, wet, etc. Embrace the cold by having a warm treat when you go inside like warm milk or cocoa. Follow a sunny creek play morning with a smoothie snack. Or a puddle jumping muddy morning with a toasted sandwich for lunch.