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Toddler Talk: Nature Play

It's no secret that toddlers love to be outside. My girls spend most of their days outdoors—helping in the garden, taking care of our chickens, playing in the yard or exploring the woods near our home. Even as babies, being in nature seemed to calm them. If they were upset or experiencing a bout of cabin fever, a walk around the neighborhood or a drive with the windows down in the country always made them feel better. I truly believe that nature is one of the best places for children to learn and explore. Nature inspires creativity and encourages a spirit of adventure! So lather on the sun screen, grab the bug spray and get outdoors with your little one!

Here are fifteen ways to enjoy nature play this summer:

1. Enjoy an afternoon at the park: Set up a play date at a fun, local park! Enjoy swings, slides, and the sandbox.

2. Take a hike in the woods: Find a state park or a local hiking trail and explore the woods.

3. Visit a nearby farm: Schedule a tour of a local farm. Feed goats, milk cows, see the chickens. Little ones love to spend time with animals!

4. Dig and plant in the garden: Give your little ones a garden plot of their own. Plant seeds and watch them grow!

5. Take a trip to a nature center: This one is perfect for a rainy day. Visit a nature center to learn all about animals and insects.

6. Walk around a conservation area: Find a conservation area and enjoy a scavenger hunt. Look for certain trees or birds that are popular.

7. Play in the yard: Bubbles, balls, and bug-catchers can make for a perfectly fun afternoon in your very own yard.

8. Go for a bike ride: Load up the kids and enjoy a family bike ride. Ride around your neighborhood or find a neat trail to enjoy.

9. Swim at a local beach: Play in the sand and let the waves roll in at a local beach. (Land-locked? Check out the swim beach at a nearby lake!)

10. Visit the farmer's market: Shop for local produce outdoors!

11. Have a picnic near a scenic view: Pack up your lunch and a blanket and enjoy a picnic somewhere beautiful - by the river, near a lake, by an enormous old tree, etc.

12. Explore a cave: Grab a headlamp or a flashlight and enjoy exploring a nearby cave.

13. Feed the birds: Get a bird feeder and make them a special treat. Hang it someplace where your little one can watch!

14. Pick berries: Do a search to find a local berry patch. Take the kids and pick your very own strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries.

15. Take your dog on a walk: Scruffy needs to experience nature, too! Get out of the house and enjoy a walk around the neighborhood with your furry best friend.

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