Take It Outside!: Outdoor Activities for Your Preschoolers

I don’t know about anyone else, but for me, this past winter seemed unusually long and harsh. I don’t recall ever being so grateful to see the month of March arrive, or see buds appearing on trees and daffodils springing up!

Like many children, my kids love being outdoors. We are done with our winter hibernation and ready to stretch our legs outside once again, enjoying our favorite springtime activities. I’ve put together a list of some of our favorite outdoor diversions, most of them appealing to the preschool age group. So let this list inspire you…then head outside, where creativity is limitless and beauty abounds!

Set up a small-scale zoo.
Every playroom has them: Those small plastic or wooden animals of various species and sizes. Gather them all together in a box and tote them outside. Create a zoo environment, helping your children craft natural environments for the animals to “live in.” Make fences out of twigs, penguin and polar bear pools out of clear plastic containers, and rock caves for lions and tigers. Invite Lego and Playmobil people to visit your “zoo!”

Sidewalk chalk…unleashed.

Go beyond just drawing on the patio or sidewalks. Spray the pavement with water and then let the kids draw; they’ll be amazed at how much darker and more vibrant the colors appear. Draw hopscotch gameboards and play, or even make a simple alphabet game (draw alphabet letters and let the kids to race to each letter or letter sound you call out). If you feel really industrious, how about making your own sidewalk paint?

Garden planning.
If it’s too early to sow seeds where you live, let the kids help you with your garden planning. Give them graph paper and show them how to map out areas of your yard for planting. If you want to add an element of fun, tell them they can make it realistic or imaginary (i.e., let them draw made-up, fantastical plants and trees to make a one-of-a-kind garden of their own).

Miniature laundry.
The first really warm spring day we have, you’ll usually find us outside “doing laundry.” I provide the kids with several tubs of sudsy water and a few plain ones for rinsing. They wash a handful of their clothes and washcloths (and other small things) and then wring them out. We have a small folding clothesline and wooden clothespins for drying, but you can always have the kids drape laundry over chairs and fences.

Construct fairy houses.
Read fictional stories about fairies and then head outside to make a small house for the “backyard fairies” to find and inhabit. Gather small pebbles, twigs, acorn caps, and flower petals and let your children’s imaginations and building skills take off.

Have a toy car wash.
From winter storage, the toy cars, trains, trikes and other ride-on toys are probably sporting a layer of dust and cobwebs. Haul them out on a warm spring day and set up a line of sprinklers and hoses, complete with dish detergent and rags, and let the kids get their vehicles squeaky clean. (We also do this with sand toys.)

Check out local farms.
Farms are very interesting places to visit in the early spring. Check around; you might live near a working dairy farm or horse training stable. Our neighbor raises sheep, and we know that their annual shearing is in early April. Be neighborly; call, ask around, and politely request a visit. Most people are more than happy to let you come and experience a morning of fun and learning!

Photographic scavenger hunt.
Make up a visual list ahead of time for things your kids need to find outdoors. Give it to them on a clipboard as a checklist, along with a pencil and a digital camera. Have them take photos of each object and bring the list back (and the camera!) when they’re done. The results are often wonderful and creative!

Meg Wilson is a devoted wife to her husband, Ken, of 10 years, and mom and homeschooling teacher to her 5-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter. When she’s not writing or creating something, Meg loves to cook for, host and entertain friends and family. She also enjoys reading, the outdoors, eclectic music, yoga, and studying history. You can read all about her adventures (and misadventures) at her blog, Muses of Megret and read her product reviews at Muse Reviews.

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