“Brrr! It’s too cold out.” “Ugh, it’s raining!” “Phew! I can’t take the heat!”
It’s easy to find excuses when it comes to outdoor play, but here’s a tip: when dressed appropriately, any day is a great day to play outside! Outdoor play is the perfect setting for experiential learning, sensory language development, and memorable discovery. And to top it off, the fresh air helps your little one to sleep!
The most obvious discovery is the weather. “Is it raining out? What should we wear? Boots? A raincoat? Let’s go splash in the puddles!”
When you get outside, let the exploration begin. Talk about your new discoveries!
“Look at all the robins in the grass! What are they doing? Look! They’re eating WORMS! That’s funny—do YOU eat worms? No, but birds do!” (Later, of course, you’ll go inside, pull out the play doh and make lots of worms for the birds, right?)
The point is, whatever you see, hear, touch, or smell when playing outside is a new topic to talk about throughout the day.
Maybe it’s a windy day and the leaves are blowing all around. Stand in the grass with outstretched arms and swirl and twirl, just like a leaf! Fall down and laugh and laugh! Or listen to the crunch as you walk and collect your favorite leaves! What color are they? Are they big or little? Pointy or smooth? Exploration leads to communication.
Here are 4 ways to help your little one talk about all the cool discoveries of the moment:
Point to the object and look at it. Be sure your child is looking too. Joint attention is key to building communication.
MAKE THE SOUND YOURSELF:
Model the sound you’re hearing. “Brrrmmmm…” (That sounds like a plane, right?)
“Whoa! Did you hear that? It’s a plane. That’s a BIG plane! The plane us UP in the sky!”
RECAP & REPEAT:
Throughout the day talk about what you saw and heard. Whether eating a snack, taking a bath, or cuddling before bed, recap the day’s experiences: “Do you remember the plane we saw up in the sky? Brrrmmm!”
PRO TIP: Noticing and talking about environmental sights and sounds doesn’t just help kids—it helps US to be present. It brings our attention to what is happening in the moment so we don’t miss out!