The Outdoor Classroom- April 2014

Outdoor Classroom

A beautiful spring day is usually motivation enough to get outside and play with your preschooler, but whether you realize it or not, games and activities that are staples of spring — playing catch, jumping rope and pumping on a swing — can help your child develop important physical abilities like hand-eye coordination and gross and fine motor skills.  Grab a few bottles of water, slather on some sunscreen and get ready to try some of these activities with your youngster:

  • Ride a Bike or Trike

Riding a bike, whether it’s a tricycle or a “big kid” bicycle with or without training wheels is a great way to help your little one develop his gross motor skills and eye hand coordination. Plus, it’s a fun family activity that gets you all moving.

  • Play Catch

Playing with a ball offers all sorts of opportunities for kids to utilize different skill sets, whether she throws, catches or kicks.  For the most part, children don’t master catching and throwing until they’re five but in any case, it’s fun to practice.  Use balls of different sizes and take turns throwing and catching.  Start off close together and gradually move further apart.

  • Blow Bubbles

Seems simple enough, but blowing bubbles is actually a tricky skill for preschoolers to master.  Their lips have to be in just the right position and they have to blow the correct way in order to form bubbles.  Most children aren’t able to do this proficiently until about age 3. Handling the wand and the bottle can also get frustrating for little ones — both can get slippery and can spill easily, so start off easy.  Offer a variety of homemade wands (fly swatters, berry baskets and pipe cleaners all work well) and show your child how to dip the wand and wave it to make bubbles.

  • Make the Outdoors Your Canvas

Art takes on a greater magnitude outside.  With sidewalk chalk and paint, help your child to create hopscotch boards, race tracks, a storefront and more.  Practice tracing one another and then draw faces and clothing on the empty forms.  Got an old easel in the garage? Bring it outside for an al fresco art show.