Take It Outside! Fresh Air, Nature and Nourishing Play

Children cannot bounce off the walls if we take away the walls.” – Erin Kenny

Given Covid, all of our in-person programming has been outside. With the open air, we seriously reduce the risk of spreading germs while simultaneously benefitting from spaciousness and natural elements!  We bring a variety of toys, materials and platy prompts outside, further embellishing our outdoor classroom. While we play, we may pause to listen for the nearby woodpecker, dig in the soil to unearth a worm, or encounter a tiny seashell in the sandbox, deepening our connections to the natural world.

   

Leap frogs.                                                 Swinging, pushing, taking turns.

   

Snuggling in close to read together. 

 

Testing our ears with a matching shaker game.

  

Building rainbow patterns with friends.

   

Digging and making sand pies.               

 

 Harnessing the wind, running and decorating using rainbow streamers.

Satisfying Sensory Play at Home

Most young children thrive when engaged in sensory play. Sensory tubs and playdough are two simple. low-cost, satisfying sensory play options families can offer at home. These hands-on activities are typically calming, help children focus and express themselves creatively and are ripe for extended, engrossing play.  At HFP– and likely preschools across the nation– children naturally gravitate to the sensory and playdough tables. These activities are easy to offer at home. 
 
Sensory Tub
  • Find or purchase a plastic tub with lid. 
  • Fill with water or any dry ingredient such as popcorn kernels, rice or lentils. 
  • Add a range of containers or scoops such as empty plastic bottles, measuring cups, measuring spoons, etc.
  • Rotate tools inside the table to keep interest high.
  • Borrow a range of sensory table tools  from HFP’s Toy Lending Library to add flare and variety to your home tub. 
  • Cover with a lid when not in use. 
Playdough  
  • Make a batch of homemade playdough.
  • If you make more than one color, consider making primary colors (such as red & blue or yellow & blue) so they’ll blend well when inevitably mixed together. 
  • Cooked playdough recipe here.
  • Borrow a range of playdough table tools from HFP’s Toy Lending Library to add flare and variety to your home playdough. 

Virtual Play Date

While these offerings will likely be sources of joy for your child at home, you might consider amping up the excitement by offering a virtual play date. Children from two households can meet-up and use sensory materials together over Zoom or Google Meet. Children can  mold playdough together or scoop and fill cups of multiple cups of “hot cocoa”… building off the ideas of their playmate while playing side by side. 

Rainy Day Play

The natural world provides THE best play options for young children. Northwest rainy days entice young children to engage in what they know best– kinesthetic and sensory explorations. A few props (rain gutters, a slide, plastic balls and rubber toy frogs) coupled with a barrel full of rain water makes for deeply engrossing and joyful play. 

We roll plastic colored balls down slides and ramps. We compare the speed of the slide and the ramp. Some children wonder if different colored balls roll more slowly than other balls.

We quickly discover  that rain suits (muddy buddies)  slide extra fast on slippery wet slides!

We team up to fill a large bowl of water, alternating cup fulls down a ramp into the bowl. We then carry the heavy bowl to the sandbox to add to our mud pie ingredients.

Toy Lending Library Spreads Joy

Keeping our germs to ourselves doesn’t mean we have to keep our toys to ourselves! At HFP, we are fortunate to have a storage closet full of engaging materials. Over the past 15 years, I have been able to purchase new and used puzzles, cooperative games, props, dolls, lacing cards, manipulatives, toys, trucks and more!  During Covid, we’re steering clear of indoor get-togethers which could mean children would miss out on access to the wide range of inspiring games and amusements, but we figured out a way to share materials– HFP’s toy lending library. Each week children get to pick out a set of blocks, magnets, floor puzzle, bag of playdough toys, sensory table kit or other merriment to borrow. This simple practice is bringing variety, enrichment and delight to our families homes!  As families snap pictures of their children using school materials, we’ll share them to spread further joy.