Activities for toddlers and babies
There’s nothing better than eating snacks or meals outside to enjoy the last days of summer or warm fall days. Read on to discover ways to make picnics extra special for young children.
Display a checkered tablecloth on a wall and glue pictures of sandwiches, different types of fruit, vegetables, and other food items that are often enjoyed on picnics all over it to create a unique mural.
ROUTINES AND TRANSITIONS
To present your theme, set a large picnic basket on the floor, in the center of your daycare. Add items that are commonly part of a picnic: paper plates, plastic food items, sun hats, flowers, a ball, etc. Let infants and toddlers manipulate everything. They will enjoy filling and emptying the basket many times.
SENSORY ACTIVITIES (look, hear)
If there’s a covered area that makes eating outside even on a rainy day possible close to your daycare, take advantage of it. Children will love watching the rain fall as they eat their lunch or snack. Invite them to listen to the pitter patter of the rain and together, have fun reproducing the sounds you hear with your mouths.
Indoor version of the rainy-day picnic
On rainy days, you can also organize indoor picnics. Set a blanket on the floor, next to a window. Watch the rain fall and listen to the sound of the raindrops hitting the window with your group.
SENSORY ACTIVITIES (hear)
Organize a picnic under a large tree. Hang several wind chimes from the tree’s branches. As children eat their lunch or snack, listen to the melodies produced by the wind chimes. Give children the chance to discover the source of the pretty sounds they hear on their own.
ARTS & CRAFTS
For this activity, you will need a large piece of white fabric. Let the children in your group paint directly on the fabric. Let dry. Drape the fabric over a picnic table in your yard and use it as a tablecloth.
MORAL AND SOCIAL ACTIVITIES
Stuffed animal picnic
Fill a box with stuffed animals, plastic dishes, a tablecloth, and plastic food items. Let children explore the material and use it to have a pretend picnic with the stuffed animals.
Plan a big picnic. Prepare food for your group and invite others to meet you at the playground. Be sure to inform them that they must bring their own food. You could, for example, invite another daycare group, parents, or grandparents to join you.
My ice cream melts
Bring ice cream outside and enjoy this special treat with your group. You can give each child a small bowl containing one scoop of ice cream. Wait three or four minutes before eating the ice cream. Encourage children to observe the texture of the ice cream before and after they have started eating it. Help them notice how sweet the ice cream tastes. Explain how the ice cream melts under the sun and invite them to eat it up before it is completely melted.
What’s hiding in those tents?
Set up one or more play tents in your yard. Set a tablecloth and a bowl filled with a different type of snack on the ground in each tent. For example, you could offer crackers in one tent, blueberries in another tent, and dry cereal in a third tent. Ask your group to guess what’s hiding in the tents before letting them visit each one to eat the snacks.
PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AND MOTOR SKILLS
Music, streamers, and a picnic
From time to time, play different types of music to accompany your picnics. When children are done eating their lunch or snack, hand them streamers and encourage them to dance to the sound of the music. Babies and toddlers will love watching the streamers dance in the wind.
A kite at the playground
Bring a colorful kite to the playground. At the end of your picnic, walk to an open area with your group and fly your kite. Children will enjoy watching the kite float high above their heads.
A picture-filled basket
Set a picnic basket on the floor and insert pictures related to your theme. For example, you could include pictures of the children in your group enjoying a picnic, pictures of different types of foods, pictures of a family seated at a picnic table, etc. Let babies and toddlers observe the pictures and talk about each one with them. Be sure to name the different items you see.
Early childhood educator
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