The balmy weather has been perfect for fun-filled hours of play and exploration outside. If your children are anything like mine, they’ve been keen to spend all day playing in the garden, creating mud sculptures; excitedly playing chase games; pond dipping; making dens, playing house and hide and seek; and whittling pieces of wood. If you’re struggling for ideas for things to engage your four year old with, why not try some of these activities? With the weather great it’s an ideal time for offering messy play outside as it takes away the hassle of tidying up! Younger and older children will enjoy these activities too and are sure to come up with their own, even better, ideas!

• Put some sand in a container outside with some Treasure Basket/household items e.g. wooden and metal spoon, egg cup, napkin ring, measuring cups, etc. for children to freely play with.

• Bury some treasure-like objects, e.g. smooth stone (for a dinosaur egg), mini flower pot, necklace or chain in sand for the children to discover in an archaeological dig with various brushes and spoons.

• Provide clean (soapy) water in a bowl outside and brushes, spoons and containers for role play, transporting and painting magic pictures with.

• Provide a box of assorted buttons for children to sort, count use for pattern-making and explore.

 • Provide magnifying glasses or rulers for a magnify or measure walk. Children can go round the garden magnifying and measuring objects of their choosing.

• Use paper plates or shoe box lids for creating mini gardens or landscapes using twigs, etc. foraged from outdoors.

• Create dreamcatchers from string and foraged twigs, feathers, shells and stones.

 • Provide a paddling pool with about an 1” of water in it. Arrange some small-world toys (people, cars, boats etc) and a few natural items like a piece of wood or large stone to inspire role play.

• Provide some material and pegs for creating a den. Go with the flow in letting your child enjoy a book or picnic lunch in the den.

• Provide scrap paper and crayons for making rubbings in the garden. Play a game of guess the pattern.

Wherever possible let your child take the lead, and watch and learn to discover how their amazing mind works. (Always supervise play with water and young children.) Research has shown that even looking at green space is great for our minds and bodies, so rest assured your child will be learning loads whilst having fun!