50 Things To Do Together Before You're 5

Exploring Together Outside

11 - 30 of our list is full of activities for you to enjoy together while outside

childfeedingducksChildpouringmud

11.  Feed some Ducks

This experience will give your child the opportunity to learn so much! You could talk to them about ducklings becoming ducks, what ducks like to eat and where ducks like to sleep. If your child is a little younger, you may just want to point to practice naming the duck, waiting up to 10 seconds for the child to respond and then repeating the word again. If your child can say duck try adding a word like ‘feathery duck’.

Baby (Under 1)

  • Allowing your baby to explore a range of textures will help them to learn about the world around them, let them have a go at find out what different types of “duck food” feels/smells/tastes like. Please note; this will need a high level of parental supervision and consideration of safety.

Toddler (2 year old)

  • There is lots of new language to be learnt when feeding the ducks so make the most of the opportunity by naming the things you are doing and can see. Children learn words through hearing them lots of times so talking about the experience again later or linking in stories and rhymes is great for reinforcing the words.

Pre-schooler (3-5years)

  • Pre-schooler’s will enjoy feeding the ducks and learning about duck’s behaviour, watch how the ducks dip their heads under water or fly across the pond. You can talk about what other animals might live in or near a pond. It can also be a great opportunity to have a go at counting; how many ducks can you see? Can you sing “Five little ducks” or “1,2,3,4,5 Once I caught a fish alive”?

12.  Go for a Picnic

Everyone loves a picnic! Pack up some of your favourite food and head outside.  You could take a favourite toy or dress up to add to the fun. Plan your trip and prepare your food together then head outside whether it’s your garden or the park, your little one will find lots of fun in this simple activity.  While outside this is a great chance to try some of our other 50 things like roll down a hill.  Picnics can also be fun inside and a carpet picnic is a must for under 5's.

Baby (Under 1)

  • Going for a picnic is a lovely way to get out and about, you could meet up with family member or friends, bring a blanket for your baby to lay on, you could even use the opportunity for your baby to have some tummy time as they gain neck and head control, they’ll be interested to know what’s going on around them!

Toddler (2 year old)

  • You could host a Teddy Bear’s Picnic with your toddler, invite a couple of friends and their teddy bears and you’ve got the perfect set up for a fun play date! Sit on the floor with your child and join in with their play.

Pre-schooler (3-5years)

  • Make a picnic extra special by preparing the sandwiches with your child, they could have a go at spreading egg mayo or butter and you could even use biscuit cutters to make your sandwiches into fun shapes!

13.  Pick your own Blackberries

In the countryside, there are lots of foods available to forage. Picking blackberries can be a nice and fun way to introduce your children to fruit picking. Take the berries home and give them a wash before eating.  You can eat them there and then, have them with ice cream or if you have enough, make an apple and blackberry crumble mmm…

Baby (Under 1)

  • Although blackberries aren’t one of the first foods to give your baby when weaning, once you’re well on your way with it, you could give blackberry jam on toast a go or mush them up into some yoghurt as part of a balanced diet.

Toddler (2 year old)

  • Picking blackberries will support your toddler’s fine motor skills by allowing them to try out different ways to use their fingers and hands to pick the fruit. Why not extend the activity further by having a go at making squashed blackberry playdough when you get back home? (do we need a recipe? Standard salt dough + blackberries).

Pre-schooler (3-5years)

  • Blackberry picking with your pre-schooler, is a great way for them to start learning about where our food comes from and to see the process of picking the fruit to it ending up on their plate! Encourage them to join in with each step along the way, especially if you decide to cook/make something with the blackberries.

14.  Splash in Muddy Puddles

This is one of the easiest activities around and one which all children will love. Jumping and splashing will help children build up the muscles in their legs whilst having lots of fun in the process. Make sure your child is not jumping near roads and we recommend old clothes and wellies. Happy Splashing!

Baby (Under 1)

  • You can adapt this activity for babies by supporting them to have a go at splashing and kicking their legs during bath time, model splashing to them and then let them have a go!

Toddler (2 year old)

  • Splashing in puddles is a great way to have fun with your toddler and fun is an important part of your relationship! Why not put your wellies on and join in with the splashing, you could try different types of splashing; walking through, running through or jumping in the puddles.

Pre-schooler (3-5years)

  • Jumping in puddles supports your child’s co-ordnation and balancing skills. Try out different types of jumps to practice a range of skills such as; star jumps, hopping or running on the spot. Extend this activity by reading a bedtime story about puddling jumping.

15.  Explore Sand

Children love playing with sand, they are naturally drawn to it.  You can see why as there is so much you can do with it like building, pouring, hiding, making marks and so much more.  Children really love exploring the sand and the sensory experience it provides.  It’s a great source for creativity and imaginative play.  It also has lots of benefits including building fine motor skills.

Baby (Under 1)

  • As babies tend to explore things with their mouth, allowing your older baby to play with sand, will need consideration of safety. However, as an alternative, you could let them explore something similar to sand that is edible for example, oats or ready break (once your child is weaning). Even supporting your baby to put their feet in sand can be a fun sensory experience for them.

Toddler (2 year old)

  • Allow your toddler several opportunities to explore sand, initially, they might be unsure but the more they have a go and you model how much fun it can be, they should enjoy it too. Add some containers for filling and pouring to help with hand-eye co-ordination and physical skills!

Pre-schooler (3-5years)

  • You don’t need to go to the beach to explore sand, there are lots of places that sell children’s play sand, fill up a tray or tub at home, add some objects for digging or scooping or add water and build sand castles! You could even add some of their favourite toys such as cars or dinosaurs for imaginative play.

16.  Roll down a Hill

One of the simplest activities in our top 50! Anywhere, any hill just make sure you can roll down safely. This can lead to hours of fun, races and distance competitions. Happy Rolling!

Baby (Under 1)

  • Seeing your baby roll for the first can be exciting! Once they have got the hang over it you could support them on the floor to have a go at rolling on different surfaces/textures. For example, fluffy cushions or a foil blanket will be very different sensory experiences for your baby.

Toddler (2 year old)

  • It might sound like a simple activity but it has lots of benefits! Rolling down a hill will support your toddlers balance, coordination skills and helps them to understand where their body is in space. Rolling down a hill with your child will be lots of fun and encourage laughter.

Pre-schooler (3-5years)

  • With your pre-schooler, you could even turn this into a game; who can roll down the hill the quickest/slowest etc.? or you could make it even more of a challenge by having it as part of an obstacle course (see number 20).

17.  Make a Mud Pie

Children should learn to play imaginatively, this well help unlock their creativity and develop a sense of adventure. Children will naturally copy their parents when role playing so why not let them recreate your cooking with a bowl outside and some sloppy mud? This will be fun for the children and can be done in many ways. You could use mud, water and a bowl and old kitchen utensils and pans to really give them the sense of cooking. Old clothes to be worn of course!

Baby (Under 1)

  • Again, safety first with this one! There are lots of benefits to messy play for your baby, it promotes; physical development and muscle strengthening; hand-eye co-ordination, it encourages curiosity and it’s a great sensory experience! If your baby tends to explore everything with their mouth, you might feel more comfortable using something edible such as; cornflour and water or jelly.

Toddler (2 year old)

  • Making a mud pie with a toddler can be lots of fun, they will have seen you preparing meals and will want to have a go at doing something similar, join in with their play to support their communication, co-operation and turn taking skills.

Pre-schooler (3-5years)

  • Let your pre-schooler’s imagination run wild with this one! Encourage them to take the lead on what they want to make with the mud and how they want to do it, as well as being a fun activity to do together, you can use the opportunity to promote their independence and choice making skills. You can even encourage them to help with tidying up afterwards.

18.  Paint the Pavement with Water

Giving your child as many opportunities to draw or make marks will give them the best chance of developing the skills they’ll need when they start to write. Painting with water is a fun way for a child to explore mark-making.  There’s little to tidy up but a lot of gross and fine motor skills to develop.

Baby (Under 1)

  • Water play is fun for babies, always remember to keep the water shallow and supervise, if you are going to let them sit in it. Encourage splashing and moving their arms and hands around in the water. You can even use brushes/sponges or other materials dipped in the water to brush over your baby’s hands or feet to give them experience of some new textures.

Toddler (2 year old)

  • Your toddler will love painting with water. You can do it on smaller scale indoors with different coloured paper and water or on a larger scale with large paintbrushes and have a go at painting a range of surfaces e.g. concrete floor, paving slabs, the house bricks, trees etc. This is a great activity for developing fine motor skills.

Pre-schooler (3-5years)

  • Mark making is how children begin to write and draw so giving them lots of opportunities to make marks is great for their development. Painting with water is a fun an exciting way to do this, and if it’s a sunny day, their works of art will quickly disappear, and they’ll be able to do it over and over again!

19.  Go on a Scavenger Hunt

You can use our scavenger hunt sheet or make your own, you could even do an indoor themed scavenger hunt! Try and set a challenge for your child e.g. find 6 items in the home that begin with a G or 6 things that are yellow.

20.  Make your own Assault Course

Indoor or Outside an assault course can be as testing or easy as you child needs it to be. It could be as simple as walking along a few cushions or as your child gets older  jumping from cushion to cushion, crawling under, over tables or climbing steps.

Baby (Under 1)

  • As soon as your baby becomes mobile, this is a great way to support them with their newly learnt skills, can they crawl up a small slope, over a cushion or through a tunnel? Give your baby lots of praise for having a go!

Toddler (2 year old)

  • An indoor or outdoor assault course is a fun way of building your toddler’s confidence, if they are finding something tricky, model to them how it’s done and praise them for having a go. You don’t need to buy expensive equipment, you can use things from around your home, such as; cardboard cut-out stepping-stones, masking tape stuck along the floor for walking along, a blanket over 2 chairs to crawl under etc.

Pre-schooler (3-5years)

  • Assault courses are great for pre-schoolers as they promote thinking and problem solving as well as physical activity. You could even have a go at doing an obstacle course in water, using things like balloons, pool noodles etc.

21.  Go on a Bug Hunt

Even in our back gardens there will be lots of bugs or insects that are interesting to find and look at. Your child could save an old yoghurt pot or margarine tub, clean it and use it on a walk or in their garden to collect bugs. Once a bug has been collected, explored and talked about, return it to where it was and then let it be safe. We recommend looking under rocks or logs as a starting point on your hunt.

Baby (Under 1)

  • Young children learn language through hearing the word lots of times and then through associating the word to the object or activity. So, although your baby might be too young to get the most out of a bug hunt, you can read stories or sing songs about bugs and wildlife and then by the time they are able to enjoy a bug hunt, they will already be familiar with some of the words and bug names.

Toddler (2 year old)

  • A bug hunt is a great way for toddlers to explore nature. It sparks their interest, encourages their observation skills and can help to teach them about respecting wildlife. Name the different wildlife you see and describe it to help build on your toddler’s language skills.

Pre-schooler (3-5years)

  • Help to promote your child’s interest and exploration skills by expanding their learning of the wildlife you see, you can talk about things like; where you found the bug, what colour the bug is, how many legs the bug has or does the bug have wings?. You could even take out a bug checklist or take some photos and have a go and drawing the bugs when you get home.

22.  Make a Natural Gift from Nature

You can collect all sorts of natural objects when you are in the forest, on a canal walk or at the beach and use them to create natural gifts. A simple way is to use a pinecone and cover it with glue and sprinkle with glitter.  You could also make a shell necklace or a paint a stone.

Baby (Under 1)

  • As babies are learning through their senses, providing them with opportunities for exploring natural materials is a great activity. If you collect things on a nature walk, check that they will be safe for your baby to handle. You could have a go at doing hand/footprints on leaves or stones!

Toddler (2 year old)

  • Encourage your toddler’s creativity through collecting things when out in nature and have a go at making collage picture with them or some of the ideas above. These things can make lovely gifts or as a keepsake. Allow your child to take the lead with their creativity, mess can always be cleaned up later.

Pre-schooler (3-5years)

  •  Support your pre-schooler’s decision-making skills by encouraging them to think about what they would like to make, you can even use things from nature as tools for creating, for example, dandelion paint brushes or twig paint brushes for making patterns.

23.  Make your own Bird Food

This is a great way to encourage bird life into your garden. This cheap method would encourage birds to fly into your garden and feast on your treat.

Baby (Under 1)

  • Making a bird food with your baby is another opportunity for them to explore textures, let them have a feel of the mixture and the different ingredients, once the bird feeders are out in the garden, spend some time outside listening to the bird sounds.

Toddler (2 year old)

  • Following the steps in the video above is a great way to help your child develop their fine motor skills, particularly when using things like rolling pins and cake cutters. It will help your toddler to begin to understand how adding different ingredients together, can make something new!

Pre-schooler (3-5years)

  • Making things like bird feeders is a good opportunity for your child to learn more about the world around them, for example, what animals like to eat or where they live as well as teaching them some basic baking skills.

24.  Grow something from Seed

This is an excellent way of teaching your child about how things grow, how to look after things and to discuss the changes a plant may go through from seed to plant. Cress is always a good starting point as the seeds only need water and a little TLC!

Baby (Under 1)

  • Having plants and flowers in your house or garden or even visiting places like garden centres, provides a good sensory experience for your baby with lots of bright colours and lovely smells!

Toddler (2 year old)

  • Growing sunflowers is a good way to spark your toddler’s interest in plants and flowers, they can help with planting the seeds, filling the pot with soil and watering. Check on your sunflowers regular and your toddler will be excited it see them growing!

Pre-schooler (3-5years)

  • Growing cress is a great activity to do with your pre-schooler, they will learn about taking care of something and you can even have a go at making some egg and cress sandwiches together once the cress is ready. Your child will be excited to taste the cress they have grown themselves.

25.  Look up at the Sky 

When it’s dark at night look for stars - This activity will hopefully spark an interest in your child about space, stars or the sky. You could count the stars, watch out for shooting stars or find the brightest star in the sky.

When it’s light look for clouds - Cloud watching can be enjoyed almost anywhere and can be an endless source of fascination.  This activity connects you and your child to the natural world and encourages creativity.  For this slow, calming activity all you need to do is lay on the ground, look up and watch the clouds.  Explain what you see and what the clouds look like and watch your child’s imagination spark.

Baby (Under 1)

  • Wrap up warm and take your bedtime story outside, look up at the stars and read whatever next. Talk to your baby about the stars and point up to the sky. Fresh air can help with babies sleep too.

Toddler (2 year old)

  • Lie down outside and enjoy a bit of mindfulness with your two-year-old. It may only last a couple of minutes but watching the clouds move in the sky can be very relaxing and allow your child to switch off and relax!

Pre-schooler (3-5years)

  • Decorate a telescope in the day with an old toilet or kitchen roll and go out at night to look at all the stars. You can discuss how scientists use telescopes, count how many stars are in the sky and look out for shooting stars!

26.  Make a Natural Collage 

You can use anything and everything you find on walks, in a forest, on a beach or even in your garden. All your child will need to do is use their creativity and a selection of items to create their own 'work of art'.  This can be made by sticking the items down or just created while you’re out and about. 

Baby (Under 1)

  • Go and explore leaves, twigs, grass etc with your baby in the garden, or out and about and if they can, let them crawl free in nature. Bring all your natural objects home and create a sensory tray for your child to continue exploring at home. A great opportunity to describe different smells, textures and sounds!

Toddler and Pre-schooler

  • At this age children love to explore most things and they’re usually not afraid to get a bit messy! Allow your child to cover a piece of paper in PVA glue with their hands or a tool if that’s what they’d prefer. Explore what you collected on your walk and encourage your child to stick them down and create a picture.

27.  Have a Paddle

Why not, the next time you are near a stream or brook, go for a paddle (with the help of Mummy, Daddy or loved ones of course!). This will be a fun and exciting experience but there are a couple of things to consider- make sure you are not paddling somewhere too deep and that you can always get out of where you are paddling.

Baby and Toddler

  • Find a local brook or stream that it shallow and safe.  Put your child in their waterproofs and wellies then support them to splash and paddle in the water.  Water is a great sensory experience for babies, talk about if it’s cold, what can you see? as your child gets older they will enjoy filling and emptying containers, take a few containers and sit at the edge with your child, you can use words and phrases like, full, empty, all gone, pour it out, oh dear, half full, fill it up.

Pre-schooler (3-5 years)

  • Find a local brook or stream that it shallow and safe for you and your pre-schooler. Read a book around wildlife in streams and brooks prior to going (link to books?) and get their imaginations working. Get in your waterproofs and wellies and take along a net and buckets. You can talk all about the wildlife that could be found in streams and look out for tadpoles, small fish and anything else you may discover!

28.  Climb a Tree

This will help your child develop their problem-solving skills as well as supporting their physical development. ‘Risky play’ is also a part of a child’s learning. This will need adult supervision and it’s important that children don’t climb out of your reach.

Baby (Under 1)

  • Your little ones won’t be able to climb a tree just yet, but you can safely hold them on a branch up high so they can see the world from up there! Talk about what they might be able to see from up high and look down. Explore the different parts of the tree with your baby, talking about the smells, sounds and feels.

Toddler (2 year old)

  • If there is a low, safe and secure tree for your child to climb, feel free to let them try and take those risks and support them in doing so, don’t let them go out of your reach, this will still feel exciting for your child.

Pre-schooler (3-5years)

  • As your child gets older, they will feel more confident to climb higher into the tree.  Don’t let your child go out of your reach and support them during this activity. This will be exciting for your child and in taking those risks they will be great achievement if they manage to climb to that second branch, which is great for the self-esteem and confidence.

29.  Play with Bubbles

Using bubbles with young children is fun and is a great way of helping them learn words. Use words like, ‘pop’, ‘clap’ or ‘grab’ when you’re catching bubbles and your child will soon copy and repeat these words back to you.

Baby (Under 1)

  • Your baby will need help from you to create the bubble wand using pipe cleaners. Allow your baby to explore the bubbles and water safely. Your baby will also need help from you to make the bubbles, but they will love looking at them and popping them! You can use simple words with your baby during this activity, like pop, bubble, wow.

Toddler (2 year old)

  • Your two your old may be able to make their own simple bubble wand and they will want to try and make their own bubbles with their wand. They might get a great sense of achievement if they manage to create their own bubble! If you have another little friend or sibling, this would be a great opportunity to use this as a turn taking activity, only make one bubble wand and take it in turns to try and make a bubble, encouraging your two-year-old to wait their turn.

Pre-schooler (3-5years)

  • Allow your child to use their imagination with the different shapes they can make using the pipe cleaners for their bubble wand, you can make a star, circles, squares etc. when making your wand talk about the different shapes you can make. Find out if your bubble comes out in the same shape as the wand you have made!

30.  Explore the Seasons

Whatever the season there's always lots to explore.  Whether investigating frozen puddles, kicking leaves, blowing dandelions or making snow angels.  By tuning into what's around us we are taking the first steps to looking after our and our children's emotional wellbeing.  

Babies and Toddlers 

  • Whatever the weather this activity will work. Whether it be autumn and there’s lots of leaves fallen on the ground or winter and the grounds covered in snow. You can go outside and explore with your baby, but sometimes it can get a bit cold to be out for too long, so bring the weather inside, create a sensory tray using all the things that represent the season. For example: Spring – daffodils, flowers, grass. Summer – create a beach in a tray using sand and water. Autumn – fallen leaves, twigs etc. Winter – snow, ice.  With your toddler to talk to them about the weather and if things are cold or hot or where have the leaves fallen from?

Pre-schooler (3-5 years)

  • Your children will begin to understand a bit more about the weather now. As we have a lot of rainy days, cut a bottle in half and leave it outside whilst it rains and see how full it gets over time. On the odd sunny day we get, why not explore shadows! Get your child to stand so they can clearly see their shadow, draw around them with chalk on the ground and then make them move and watch their shadow move. Let them draw around your shadow too!

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