Toddlers experience how the world works playing with raw natural elements. For them it does not matter does the toy came from toy store or nature. They will play whatever is available to them. They will simply explore and learn along with playing and being n the moment. That is their job, and our job, as their caregivers, is create the best possible learning opportunities and help them to stay connected with mother earth.
With nice and warm weather I was looking for ideas for outdoor play. There is not many structured activities for a young toddler I could find, as I said earlier they will play whatever they find and they is perfectly fine. But I wanted to fill our patio with natural elements for my daughter to explore. So here is what I did.
I came up with idea of gathering some bigger rocks and stones around the house. She never played with rocks and I wanted her to explore that wonderful element. I washed rocks and let them dry overnight. I know how much my 15 old daughter loves fill in containers with toys and taking them out. So I found two baskets for her stones. And that was perfect match. She can play with stones and rocks for about and hour. Placing them in to one basket, transferring in and out, carrying basket around, placing stones on the ground, chair, little table … she enjoys all of it.
For adding a bit colours in her nature play with stones I made vivid ladybugs and bees stones. And they also look great in our flower pots.
Here are some other ides for stone and rocks natural play depending of your child developmental stage:
– stacking and building which is never-ending play for toddlers
– water displacement activity for experiment play
– draw animals on stones for imaginative play
– make memory game and domino game
– make letters and numbers for learning activities
– arts and crafts with painted stones
– story telling rocks – print out and cut elements and charters, then glue with Mod Podge and protect with child safe non toxic sealant.
– use rocks for cooking in mud kitchen and for tea parties, either natural or paint them as vegetables and fruits
– use them in sensory bins
I love the idea of stone and rocks nature play as they tend to be very durable as a toys and give toddler opportunity to explore and use their imagination while playing.