Being outside is not only good for little bodies, it’s great for young minds too. Connecting with nature can be an energising and relaxing experience, bringing about a sense of calm and stillness.
Charging around playing energetic games are great fun, but kids also need an opportunity to slow right down and savor the moment.
Here some garden games you can play to slow the tempo right down.
1. Collaborative Eye Spy In a twist to the traditional version of eye spy, in collaborative eye spy the players take any letter of the alphabet and see how many items they can spot that begin with the letter. If you start at ‘a’ and work your way through, you can play this game 26 times before it gets old.
To help collect more items, change your viewing angle. Get up on the climbing frame for an aerial view and you might spot some new things, or lie on your tummy looking across the lawn. This is a great way to show children that by looking at things from a different perspective you might notice things that were there all along, but you have previously missed.
Younger children who are not yet able to handle letter sounds, can play the game with colours instead.
2. Nature’s Orchestra Lie on a picnic blanket in the garden with your eyes closed. Listen carefully to the sounds of nature and the world around you. How many different sounds can you hear, and can you name them all?
3. Cloud Monsters Stay on the picnic blanket, or lie on top of the climbing frame, open your eyes and stare up at the passing clouds. What shapes, animals, or images can you see up there. Notice cloud monsters in the sky, then make up a story about them.
4. Storyteller Spend a little time noticing the creatures moving all around, then ask your child to choose one to be the central character in a story. You can then take turns creating a story about the animal’s day so far, the adventure they are on now, and what will be happening to it later.
5. I Am The Wind Lie face down, take a big deep breath, then exhale slowly, blowing gently on the grass so as to make the blades rustle gently. Ask your child to do the same. Slowly breathing in and out this way is very calming, as is watching the grass dance about.
Take Advantage Of Stillness After one or two of these games, you and your child should be feeling calm and relaxed. It is at this moment you will both be more able to tap into your background emotions and thoughts. Talk, in a playful way, about what emotions you can feel, and explain it in terms that are age appropriate for your child, like giving it a colour, or a name, or even a comic appearance. Hopefully your child will join in with this game, fostering their emotional intelligence and understanding of their own body.