Taking my home outside
Activities for toddlers and babies
Since you will be spending extra time outside with your group during summer months, set up your backyard to represent routines, games, and rooms that are normally part of life indoors.
Ask parents to provide pictures of their home and display them on the walls of your daycare.
ROUTINES AND TRANSITIONS
High chairs and a small table in the yard
Of course, you can plan a picnic in your yard. However, it may be fun to set children’s high chairs in your yard along with a small table and chairs at lunch time. Have fun eating outside. Be sure to help children notice how they are eating outside, but that most meals and snacks are enjoyed inside.
Relaxing before naptime
Gather several small blankets and invite children to relax outside before falling asleep in your yard. Play soft music and offer children a gentle massage to help them unwind. If you wish, you may also read a story in the shade in your yard and then come inside for naptime to ensure the children in your group all get the sleep they need.
Set playpens and strollers up in your yard along with naptime mattresses on a mild day. Make sure each child has a spot in the shade where they can sleep. Encourage children to admire the sky as they slowly fall asleep.
SENSORY ACTIVITIES (look)
My mobile library
For this activity, you will need a plastic bin with a lid. Set several books in this bin that shall only be used outside. Set it in a cozy area of your yard and let children explore its contents as they wish. Move the bin around from one day to the next. You could, for example, set it under a tree, inside a playhouse, next to your swings, etc.
SENSORY ACTIVITIES (touch)
A small area for diaper changes and potty training
Hang wind chimes from the branches of a tree in your yard. Set portable potties under the branches. Set a small bin containing everything you need for diaper changes under the tree. Your bin could, for example, contain hand sanitizer and wipes. Have a hose nearby that can be used to wash your hands. Set a garbage can that has a lid nearby, so you have somewhere to put dirty diapers.
ARTS & CRAFTS
Modeling dough outside
Prepare your own homemade modeling dough. Set up a special area in one corner of your daycare where children can manipulate it. Let them add items found in nature that they can add to the dough. They will enjoy mixing grass into the dough, pricking branches and sticks in it, and pressing leaves and flowers in the dough to make prints.
MORAL AND SOCIAL ACTIVITIES
Washing dishes outside
This everyday task is quite fun outside. Set a few plastic bins in your yard and fill them with soapy water. Provide cloths and a variety of dishwashing accessories. If possible, let children wash the dishes they used at lunch or snack time in the bins. Make sure you have an extra bin that children can set their clean dishes in when they are done.
Just like in the kitchen, I am filling glasses
Water games are ideal during summertime. They provide children with the opportunity to have fun filling and emptying a variety of containers with water without worrying about making a mess. Provide several different kitchen accessories and set a pitcher nearby along with unbreakable drinking glasses. Encourage children to fill and empty the pitcher and the glasses. Use this activity to discuss quantities and terms like “a little” and “a lot”. You can also, for example, ask children to name the color of the glass that contains “the most” water.
PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AND MOTOR SKILLS
If you have a flat surface in your yard, provide small brooms and dustpans toddlers can use to clean it. Encourage them to sweep any leaves, branches, or rocks that may be on the surface. If you wish, sprinkle grass or leaves here and there prior to presenting this activity to challenge children.
Early childhood educator
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