Activities for toddlers and babies
Books are often set aside during summer, but reading is the perfect activity for a sunny day. Here are several ideas that will make exploring books outside special for little ones.
A cozy corner
Create a cozy corner by adding cushions, blankets, and stuffed animals to an area within your yard. Add an umbrella so children can sit comfortably in the shade. Arrange books in a pretty basket and invite babies and toddlers to visit your outdoor reading corner.
The gift of books
Purchase several new books to breathe new life into your daycare library. Wrap each book individually and set them on the floor. To present your theme, let babies and toddlers unwrap and admire the books. If you prefer, you may borrow books from your local library. If possible, try to find books about summer and summer activities.
ROUTINES AND TRANSITIONS
Individual reading bags
Find a bag for each child in your group. You may use backpacks, fabric shopping bags, or simple gift bags. Insert one book in each bag. Encourage babies and toddlers to transport their reading bag to your local playground and let them discover their book under a large tree.
If your outdoor table has a smooth surface, use adhesive paper to stick illustrations from a book directly on the tabletop. At lunch time, read the story as you point to the corresponding illustrations.
SENSORY ACTIVITIES (touch, look)
Books in the pool
Gather several plastic-covered foam books and set them directly in the water, in your kiddie pool. Invite children to sit in the pool to explore the books. Variation: Pour bubble bath in the water to create a thick layer of bubbles. This will provide children with a new texture to explore. What's more, they will love searching for the books hiding under the thick layer of foam.
Buckets and books
Deposit several small books in empty buckets and set them throughout your yard. Let babies and toddlers discover the buckets. They will love carrying the buckets around and using them to transport the books. Encourage them to find a quiet corner to flip through the pages of the different books.
ARTS & CRAFTS
Treasures between the pages
Outdoors, collect a variety of different elements available in nature such as leaves and flowers. Insert them between the pages of your books. As children turn the pages, they will enjoy discovering the hidden treasures. Invite them to press their findings on a piece of adhesive paper. Be careful! Some plants may stain the pages of your books. To be safe, you may insert pieces of waxed paper between the pages and the plants to avoid unwanted stains.
MORAL AND SOCIAL ACTIVITIES
Build a wooden box with a door that opens and closes. The box must be weatherproof. Set it in your yard and fill it with books. Babies and toddlers will enjoy exploring the contents of your book box during outdoor play. Before going inside, make sure children return all the books to your book box. Inform parents of the presence of your book box in your yard. If they wish, they may add to your outdoor book collection.
A book from home
Pick a day and invite parents to bring one book from home to daycare, preferably a plastic-covered or heavy cardboard book designed to be manipulated by little hands. Explore the books with your group during the day.
Beach towels and books
Set several colourful beach towels on the ground throughout your yard. Deposit one or two books on each towel. Let babies and toddlers move from one towel to the next to discover the books.
PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AND MOTOR SKILLS
A book and a hammock
Hang a hammock in your yard so it lies close to the ground. Slide an exercise mat under the hammock if the ground is very hard to prevent injuries if children fall out. Once your entire group is comfortably sitting in the hammock, give each child a book to explore. The hammock will provide children with the opportunity to explore movement since it swings back and forth. Few things are more enjoyable than a good book in a hammock (supervision required).
Bringing a book to life
Bringing a book to life is easy during summer months. Pick a book about summer and admire the illustrations with your group. Offer an activity linked to the storyline. For example, if you read the Caillou book Let's go to the beach, encourage children to play with water and sand toys afterwards.
Sing the story
Instead of simply reading a story to your group, have fun singing the text. To make this less challenging for you, be sure to select a book with very little text.
Enjoy your summer reading experiences with little ones!
Early childhood educator
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