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Curious
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Nature Play for Babies and Toddlers

3 Hands-On, Back-to-Basics, Fresh-Air Activities

Highlights 4Cs

Curious, Creative, Caring, and Confident™
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Curious
The light bulb icon represents curiosity. For content about raising a curious child, look for this icon.
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Creative
The paint brush icon represents creativity. For content about raising a creative child, look for this icon.
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Caring
The holding hands icon represents caring. For content about raising a caring child, look for this icon.
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Confident
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These earthy options will place your tot on a nature-loving track.
Nature Play for Babies and Toddlers
Awesome Activity #1

Make this: Mud Soup for Dinner

Why: Because it’s a totally tactile way for your baby to have fun and learn at the same time

Best for: Age 1 and older

What baby gains: Fine motor skills, sensory engagement

What this encourages: Imagination and imitation. Baby can copy what he sees you doing.

How to get started: Rustle up one large kiddie pail and shovel for digging; plastic spoons for mixing; paper plates for serving; flower petals, leaves, stones, grass, soil, water, bark, and more for your “dinner” ingredients.

Do this: Show your baby how to dig up loose soil and deposit it in a bucket.Let him add water from a hose or faucet and toss in stuff he finds in nature. Mix, serve, and pretend to eat dinner. Tell your child he can play with his food but he can’t eat it; he’ll have a real dinner later.

Do this next. Introduce lots of new words, including nature colors such as green and brown, plus words like rock, stone, mud, water, leaves, flower petals, etc. Use them often in everyday conversation.

Awesome Activity #2

Make this: A Tot-Size Wind Sock 

Why: Because this shows your little learner that air moves—even if she can’t see it.

Best for: 1- to 2-year-olds

What baby gains: Fine motor skills, a bigger word bank, a connection to nature

What this encourages: A pint-size interest in physics and science

How to get started: Grab a sheet of colored construction paper,baby’s favorite stickers, crepe-paper streamers in rainbow colors, a stapler, a hole punch, glue, and string (and then eyeball a low-hanging branch outdoors to hang this on).

Do this: Help your baby place kid-safe stickers on the sheet of paper. Glue streamers to the bottom of the paper, roll to create a tube (sticker side out), and fasten with staples. Punch two holes at the top of the tube, opposite each other. Loop the string through the holes, knot them, and hang the wind sock. Watch the streamers flutter when the wind blows.

What to do next: Use words such as air, sky, sun, cloud, tree, and branch to boost your baby’s vocabulary. On other days, watch water swirl, leaves blow, and candles flicker.

Awesome Activity #3

Make this: A Nature-Walk Bracelet

Why: Because who doesn’t like fashion?

Best for: 2- and 3-year-olds

What baby gains: Muscle strength, endurance, fine motor and observation skills

What this encourages: Curiosity, creativity, finding neat things to do outdoors

How to get started: Together, walk down the block, through a park, or around a nearby playground. Gather leaves, flowers, pine needles, acorns, and anything else that’s safe and your child finds appealing. Take a bag to carry the items home.

Do this: Encourage your child to sort the findings by size, color, texture, or if he wants, likeness. Ask him to describe each item. Make a masking-tape bracelet (smooth side in, sticky side out). Show your child how to attach the items to the bracelet. Let him choose what to add and in what order.

What to do next: Remove the bracelet and set it aside for tomorrow. Lay it flat and invite your child to glue the bracelet to a sheet of paper to create art!

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