We all realise that young children benefit from being outside, but what you might not appreciate is that they value being given free access to play outside whenever they want. Some children are naturally inclined to remain indoors, and they may need encouragement to play outside, but other children would rather be outdoors than indoors.
Try to allow your little ones to play outside whenever they wish. Obviously outdoor play may not fit in with your routine if you don't have a secure garden or they are so young that they need constant supervision, but if you have a safe outside area then encourage your little ones to take themselves outside whenever they wish to.
Besides the fresh air, there are so many reasons why outdoor play is so important. Children playing outside will interact in different ways to when they are inside. They have space to run or move more quickly, they can jump about without fear of being told off for causing danger! They are able to make more noise than when they are indoors, and they will find objects in the garden to play with that help them explore different materials, such as sticks, stones, plants and so on.
Try to offer a freeflow environment where children can choose to go outside whenever they want. Obviously they may not always be able to go out, but giving them an outdoor option will benefit their development in so many different ways.
New research brings consensus to the idea that the dinosaurs were wiped out after a phenomenal asteroid collision sited at what is now the Yucatan Peninsular in Mexico - this is the stuff of boys' imagination, combining two fascinating boundaries of knowledge: dinosaurs and space.
Although your little ones are probably too young to comprehend the reality of either space or dinosaurs, why not at least introduce these ideas? No matter where you live you probably aren't that far from a museum that has exhibits on at least one, if not both, of these topical areas. Plan a visit and activities around one of these two areas!
To foster an interest in space, take your little ones outside after dark to observe the moon and stars; explain that every star is like our sun but so far away that they appear to be tiny. Talk about concepts of near and far based on things you can see nearby, explain how further objects appear to be smaller than nearby ones.
Introduce the idea that we live on a planet called Earth and that there are lots of other planets in space but so far away that we can't see them. Look at a map of the world and describe how we have lots of countries and lots of sea, and perhaps name some of the countries that your little ones might have heard of.
Create a spaceship out of old bottles, boxes or cartons and encourage your kids to go off exploring the universe!
Time is a very confusing and abstract concept. Children struggle to distinguish 'today', 'tomorrow' and 'yesterday', so having them conceptiualise dinosoars roaming the land hundreds of millions of years ago is going to be a challenge! But you can explain that dinosaurs were like giant monsters and that there were lots of them a long, long time ago!
Find pictures of dinosaurs in a book, online, or best of all, in a sticker book, and look at the different creatures. Point out their different characteristics such the styles of their legs, tails, horns; maybe some of them have funny necks and small heads, others might have huge teeth; lots walk, some fly, others swim. Study the pictures and tell your children their names. See if they can pronounce the really tricky ones - to them the sounds may be no more alien than many of the other words and phrases they hear every day.
Why not make a dinosaur park? Draw and cut out your own dinosaurs, make more out of card or old bottles, and see if you can create a dinosaur menagerie.
Just as your kids are beginning to place where their house is when they return from journeys out, suddenly they begin to discover that the world is made up of lots of different countries with different people speak different languages. Not exactly an easy idea to grasp! Having an understanding of the world and the diversity of people and language is an important aspect of early education.
Just as kids learn their immediate surroundings through their senses, so you can teach about the world by appealing to their senses too.
Introduce the concept of language through sound - talking and hearing. If you're lucky, you might be fluent in more than one language, but even if you're not, you probably know some basic words such as 'Hello' and 'Thank You', and maybe some numbers, in a number of languages? Talk about language and explain how people say these words in different countries. Explain how even people in the English-speaking world talk in different voices and use slightly different words in certain circumstances.
You can have a lot of fun explaining about different foods from round the world as you introduce basic foods from different countries. Rice, pasta, pizza and different breads come from different countries. You can readily buy fruit and vegetables from countries around the world. If your children are adventurous eaters then try them with simple Chinese, Mexican, Italian, Thai, Indian and other cultural dishes!
Teach geography and sense of distance by playing games. Create a representation of each continent on pieces of paper and spread them around a large room, or better still, the garden. Locate the continents in roughly the way that they are laid out across the globe - Asia, Australasia, North America, South America and Europe. Then simply shout out 'Swim to North America' and have them perform swimming strokes as they run over to North America!
Learning about the world is so important for our little ones, and there are so many games and activities that we can play to foster a desire to learn.