This post is by regular contributor Tricia Hogbin of Little Eco Footprints.
Winter is well and truly diminishing my family’s outdoor time at the moment. I’m working full-time for a little while so our mornings tend to be too rushed for outdoor play, and by the time we get home it’s dark. Then when the weekends come around it’s often wet and miserable.
I’m totally failing my New Year’s resolution to encourage unstructured outdoor play. However, I’m determined to turn that around and have been thinking of quick and easy outdoor play ideas for when it’s wet or dark. Here are my favourite ideas so far.
Nature treasure hunt
Nature treasure hunts can happen no matter what the weather. I love that they require no preparation. Simply throw on some wet weather gear, grab an umbrella, and head outside.
Wrestling with lists of things to find doesn’t really work when it’s raining, so instead of searching for something in particular, simply see what you can find.
Hunt for hidey-holes
Wildlife has to go somewhere when it rains. Head out and ask your child to find some hidey-holes where animals may shelter from the rain: under an eave; in a tree hollow; under a rock. Talk to your child about where animals live and how they shelter from the elements.
Jump in puddles
Is there any child who doesn’t like to jump in puddles? I doubt it. Put on some gumboots and clothes that you don’t mind getting wet and head off in search of puddles. Getting a little wet won’t cause any harm, particularly if you stay out for only a little while and throw the kids in a warm bath with a hot drink when you get home.
Float a paper boat
Take advantage of all those puddles and float a paper boat or fallen leaves. Have a boat race and see who’s boat floats past a particular point first.
Search for sounds
Darkness provides a perfect opportunity to focus on sounds. Go for a walk and ask your child to search for sounds. Stop still every now and then and simply listen. How many sounds can you hear? Rain falling? Car horns? Wind? Can your child guess what caused the sound?
Take your shadow for a walk
I bet your child has never consciously taken their shadow for a walk? Darkness and street lights provide the ideal environment for shadow playing. Take a torch and ask your child to see what sort of shadow different objects create. For example, they can shine the torch on a tree, or a car, or a letter box.
Do you have any outdoor play ideas for when it’s wet or dark?