We all know that spending time in the great outdoors is good for us, from filling our lungs with fresh air to taking time away from screens and finding moments to pause and observe the world around us. But how does playing outside help child development? And what are the best outdoor garden games for kids?
As May is National Walking Month, there’s no better time to discuss answers to these questions and get out and about. Here, we explore the benefits of playing outside in early years, from fostering development to providing opportunities for adventure, exploration and fun!
Connection with the natural world
Sensory experiences are the first way in which our children learn about the world around them, and what could delight the senses more than being outside?
Why not help your little one connect to the natural world with a first ‘camping trip’ in the garden? Bundle up Baby Annabell in her Deluxe Coat Set and bring her along so that together, you can look out for wildlife, pitch a tiny doll tent and sing songs around a campfire at the end of the day – it will be an experience that your little one will cherish for years to come.
Improved physical health and fitness
Jumping, running, climbing, swinging, racing, rolling, hiding and making a big mess are all reasons why playing outside is better than inside when it comes to gross motor skills! While cosying up indoors has its own array of plus points, being outdoors removes constraints and encourages physical exploration and exertion. Plus, the variation in terrain gives little legs a challenge and helps them to hone their stability.
Alongside building on those gross motor skills, little ones are bound to spot interesting things that are just begging to be picked up and examined, such as leaves and pinecones, helping to perfect their pincer grip and other fine motor skills.
Boosted emotional health
Outdoor environments fulfil children’s basic needs for freedom, adventure, experimentation, risk-taking… and just being children. By expressing themselves in the great outdoors – whether through doing chalk drawings on the patio, building a den from branches or making a collage from colourful leaves – and teaming this up with roleplay with their doll – your little one can have so much fun testing out new scenarios in an interesting yet calming environment. Studies have shown time and time again that the overarching effect of all this is improved mental wellbeing and emotional health.
Don’t forget to check out the Baby Annabell Active collection so that Baby Annabell can come on adventures too!
Feed their curiosity
There’s no better place than the great outdoors to encourage a child’s sense of wonder – whether watching worms churn through soil or listening to the hum of the bees as they bumble from flower to flower. Why not encourage your little one to pop Baby Alexander into the Active Cocoon Carrier so that they can observe, explore and adventure across new lands with their sweet little baby snuggled up to them? These special experiences in nature will help to expand the ever-growing imaginations of little minds, feeding into their creativity and love of learning.
Opportunity for practicing language and communication skills
With so many things to observe and chat about in the great outdoors, little ones will naturally become motivated to describe and explain all about their surroundings and play. In turn, this provides rich opportunities for children to practice their language and communication skills. To help your little ones expand their vocabulary further, try to get as specific as possible when talking about the world around them. For example, instead of simply saying “Look at the bird!”, you could say “That’s a magpie – a black and white bird.”
To make things more exciting, download our free outdoor activity sheet and see how many things you and your little ones can tick off while going for a walk outside.
Develop expression and identity
It’s only natural that when something catches your little one’s attention, they want to point it out to others! By taking Baby Leah for a walk using the Active Stroller with Bag, your little chatterbox can excitedly show their baby everything that piques their own interest, helping them to develop their self-expression and reinforcing their sense of identity.
Fun games to play outside
When it comes to engaging outside play and the best garden games for kids, you often can’t beat the classics. For games that require no equipment or setup, relive your own childhood with true, timeless games such as tag, hide-and-seek and ‘What’s the time, Mr Wolf?’. Ball games are always a hit too, and can be adapted for all ages. Tiny tots will learn to throw and catch using a big soft ball, while older children may enjoy working on their footwork with a football, or stretching out and learning to catch with ‘piggy in the middle’. You could even bring all the fun of a summer fair to your garden, with games such as bean bag toss, or skittles. Whatever you choose, your children will have hours of fun, all the while reaping the benefits of playing outside.
Worried about the weather? Don’t let the typical British drizzle put you off, simply put Baby Annabell Sophia in her Deluxe Rain Set, with her very own wellies, waterproof trousers and rain coat, and she’s all set to have fun splashing in puddles with your little ones!