How to Make Outdoor Play Possible All Year Long
It is so important that children get outside to play. When children step outdoors their senses activate and they experience the world in a heightened state—seemingly more excited and dramatic than our seasoned adult sensations in the outside world.
Notice the beauty of nature
Many of us have forgotten the beauty of the sound of rain and the smell of an incoming storm. Do we still care about ants meandering through blades of grass? Or the slosh of mud in a puddle? Who has time to care about discovering and rediscovering the mysteries and marvels of our world? Children! It’s the lucky adult who gets to experience the wonders and marvels of mother nature with a child. It’s still all happening around us whether we stop to notice or not.
There is no bad weather, only bad clothing
But it’s too cold outside! It's too hot outside! It's raining! And our kids might get too wet. Or muddy. And our kids might get dirty! And then what will we do?! Deep breaths. Be calm. Rest assured that parents and caregivers have been grappling with these very same questions for eons. As long as there have been children there have been muddy children—and adults dealing with muddy children. It’s not that big of a deal. And yet these are the very issues that often stop adults from letting children play outside in various weather conditions and getting a little dirty. We think it’s more work for us. It might even be dangerous. And yet there are simple ways to handle inclement weather. Proper clothing, the right footwear and the right layers make all the difference! In fact, there is a famous saying in the world of early education and outdoor play: There is no bad weather, only bad clothing.
Children should experience all weather conditions
All weather is interesting!
Any weather and temperature can be safe for children if they are properly dressed. I first heard this saying from educators at forest schools in Norway and Denmark—places where children are outside all day everyday layered up in puffy snow suits loving life and exploring the woods. If cold and wet weather doesn’t stop Norwegian children why should it stop us?
How can parents and educators make outdoor play possible all year long?
It takes careful planning and shopping and a little extra time to get clothes on and off. It could feel like more work for us. But if we take a step back and remember the deeper goals we have for our children to grow and experience life on our planet then it is not more work for us. It is simply the work. And it is work we can put our love and creativity into like everything else we do for our children. It just takes committing to the idea that children should play outside and explore their world and our job is to do everything we can to facilitate that happening.
- Find clothing appropriate for every type of weather. Layer them up. Put on rain boots. Put on older clothes that you won't mind getting messy or muddy.
- Let children be your guide to the magic and mystery of our natural world. There is beauty in every day, it just takes time to see it!
- Go outside and see. Make the effort to go outside in any weather. Remember, there's no bad weather, only bad clothes!
Enhance play with the best outdoor toysWhen children play in nature, the possibilities for play are endless! Provide children with toys that will inspire imagination. Combined with found loose parts, Guidecraft toys are the perfect exploration partner.
- Treasure Tubes and Treasure Blocks are the perfect companion for nature walks. Children can collect sticks, leaves, flowers and special, natural trinkets along the way.
- Make giant builds with oversized sets like Outdoor Hollow Blocks or Notch Blocks. Just be sure to store them somewhere dry after play is done!
- Messy play is even better with easy-to-clean toys like Little Bricks or Little Pavers. Combine these sets with materials like mud, dirt or sand for even more opportunities for authentic building experiences and sensory exploration.
- Colorful, transparent toy sets like Rainbow Blocks look beautiful in the sun! Light and shadow play is so much fun for little explorers.