Summer is now in full swing and there is only one thing that comes to mind when thinking about play—the great outdoors! The great outdoors is filled with wonder and excitement, from the tops of the trees where birds fly and kites soar, down to the ground where all sorts of universes exist and move and live. In the words of the great philosopher, Christopher Robin, there is no better time for “A Grand Explore.”
So we created a perfect day of play that he and Pooh would be proud of.
The morning is a great time to plan your day by creating an Explorer’s Map. Using crayons, markers, stickers and other mixed media, help your child draw a map of areas to explore. Allow your child to use their imagination. Perhaps you want to explore a family of ants, or how plants grow, or where a fairy may live.
Once your map is complete, help your child pack a bag for the Grand Explore. See how many things he or she can think of that may be needed for the trip: water, sunscreen, paper, color pencils, camera, perhaps a small snack.
Make a pair of personalized binoculars using two toilet paper rolls, tape and yarn, and add them to the bag. Look in the mirror to see if you both look like grand explorers.
Once outside, let your child guide you through the map. Encourage your child to take notes or draw pictures of what you both see.
Play “I Spy” using the map as a guide: “I spy an orange flower,” “I spy something very small that crawls on the ground and likes to eat watermelon.”
For older children, expand the exploration map to include clues and elements of scavenger hunting. Add pictures of those items to the side of the map and see how many you can find: a dog, a red car or even a four-leaf clover.
When you are finished exploring, lunchtime is a great time to regroup and talk about the grand discoveries.
Create a “campsite” on your porch or in your yard. Use old blankets to create a soft and inviting sitting area. If you are able, add some sheets to create a tent effect, or if you have a pop-up tent, allow your child to use it for meal or nap time.
After lunch, put the sprinkler on and pretend that your Grand Explorer is moving through waterfalls. Take a bucket of water and a variety of paint brushes to “paint” the sidewalk. Use a timer to see how long it takes for the water to dry. Add chalk to the drawings to enhance their color or to create a landscape.
After dinner, return to your “campsite” and bring some books and some music. Create a “campfire” using flashlights and sing campfire songs. Catch some fireflies or play flashlight tag.
When you’re ready to wind down, review the favorite parts of the day, read a book and snuggle with your Grand Explorer. Lay back and look up. Together, use your imaginations to create a story of your child exploring space. Count the stars and find your favorite constellations. Take a deep breath and make a wish.