Nature Boxes to Inspire Outdoor Play + Sensory Exploration

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Sometimes our kids need a little inspiration when it comes to outdoor play, am I right? I used to tell my kids all the time, “Just GO OUTSIDE and PLAY!”

But the more I pushed them to play outside, the more they pushed back and resisted it and it drove me crazy.

As a pediatric occupational therapist, I know the importance of outdoor play for brain development, mental health, development of health sensory regulation skills, etc. I also want them to use their creativity and imagination and to get their healthy daily dose of vitamin D.

A child playing outdoors in nature isn’t all just fun and games. Play is the most crucial occupation of a child. And through play, a child establishes developmental motor skills (such as fine and gross motor), cognitive abilities (such as executive functioning skills and problem solving), social skills, sensory processing skills and emotional regulation.

Play is the most crucial occupation of a child. And through play, a child learns and establishes developmental motor skills (such as fine and gross motor), cognitive abilities (such as executive functioning skills and problem solving), social skills, sensory processing skills and healthy emotional regulation skills.

Physical activity even boosts a child’s self-confidence and research has shown its benefits on improving mental health as well.

A 2011 meta-analysis looking at exercise—an important component of active play—hinted that it could have benefits for anxiety, depression, and self-esteem in adolescents.

Back to me and trying to get my kids to play more outside.

There was just something about me telling them they needed to ‘go play outside’ that made them resist the idea.

It wasn’t until I started to give them little ideas that I saw their eyes light up and they finally began to enjoy and even request outdoor time themselves (hallelujah!)

”Let’s build a fairy nest!”
”Let’s collect all the colorful leaves you can find in baggies!”
”Can you find all the sticks and build a fire pit?”

These are all little ideas we’ve used to inspire outdoor play in nature/aka usually our backyard.

It seems like such a little thing but I cannot tell you how much it has helped mine and my kids sanity. They need the sensory input and the physical activity and sometimes us mamas just need a break. You know, to clean up from the 7,000 meals we served that day or maybe just drink that cup of tea and take 3 deep breaths.

Anyway, we created these little rainbow colors nature play inspiration boxes to go on a Rainbow Scavenger Hunt and I wanted to share them with you all since they have been such a big hit.

If you cant find a compartmentalized container (I found these at the dollar store) you can use an egg crate or a divided lunch box container.

Simply place something from each color of the rainbow (Think: ROYGBV) into each compartment and ask your kiddos to go outside and see how many things they can find outside to put in each color department. You would be amazed at how much their imagination and excitement will rev up about the idea of being outside with this activity.

Anyways, I hope your littles enjoy this activity as much as we do!

Leave me a comment or a picture if you end up doing this sweet nature activity!

-Ashley


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