Whilst it’s the school summer holidays in Europe and the West, in Bangkok the rains have started and the monsoon is in full swing. It’s starting to pour down outside and quite frankly although kids love puddle jumping not many parents let their kids stay outdoors for long in fear of all the ills the monsoon season brings with it. Outdoor learning is becoming a more recognised way of helping younger children to develop, and many of the international schools in Bangkok have embraced it full heartedly. Getting outside, getting dirty and connecting with the world around us is essential for all areas of development… BUT, what do you do when it’s pouring with rain? Well, there are several really fun outdoor activities that can be bought indoors.
These don’t need to be messy, chaotic play but more exploring, creating and investigating our world around us, from the cooler and dryer conditions of the indoors. We can use elements of outdoors and bring them in to create some fantastic artwork, wonderful science projects, and even maths and English learning — all under the disguise of play. To keep the kids busy during the downpours we have found some great ideas which involve all sorts of learning and are fun and easy to do.
These are excellent ways to get children really looking at what’s going on outside, even if it’s through a window. You can look at weather, animals, birds, insects, planes… you name it.
Get your kids to design a big observation chart looking daily at the things they are most interested in. You can use stickers or stamps to note the changes each day. For example, a weather observation chart could have a picture of a sun, a cloud, wind, rain, thunder and lightning. Every day, at different point in the day, look outside. Get the children to tell you what the weather’s doing and note it on your chart. Prompt them to think more than just ‘today it is sunny’. There’s always more to see than you think.
*Handy hint: Leave some binoculars by the door and see if the children will lead the activity.
Stick, Flower & Leaf Art
There’s heaps of plant debris lying around. If you can head out early, there’s always twigs, fallen leaves and flowers lying around. Be careful though. If you’re not sure what something is, best to leave it be. Berries and fruit might be a problem if your child is susceptible to allergies.
Collect up anything that is of interest. Could even be empty snail shells.
The options for what to do are endless. Mosaics using different shaped leaves, painting using the flowers as paint brushed. Make a road using sticks. Decorate the dried leaves and make a beautiful mobile.
*Handy hint: Be as creative as you like. See what the children want to do and follow their ideas.
Design Your Own Garden
This is a great way to use up old magazines. We use large boards and lots of PVA glue. This can be a little bit messy but well worth it.
Guide the children towards images of gardens and the outdoors that they like in magazines. Help them to cut out the images carefully, using their best concentration.
Then they can lay out the images as they want, to create the most wonderful garden. Anything can be included. It can be a fairy garden, or a monster truck garden.
*Handy hint: If it doesn’t end up looking like a garden it really doesn’t matter. It’s the process that counts, not the outcome.
Anything’s possible when they use their imagination.
Grow Your Own Garden
A great science project to do with the kids is to get them to grow their own plants. Kids love to watch things grow and it’s a good lesson in responsibility as they have to water the plants and turn them towards the sunlight each day. Cress heads are a very easy and is a great way of showing how seeds turn into food in a relatively short period of time so that your child can see the whole growing process from start to finish and be involved throughout. Give it a go – kids love it!
Because cress is just so simple to grow, you can use it as a good experiment with the children to show them all the things that plants need to grow. It is also one of the easiest things to grow and what’s more, you can grow this indoors and the bonus is the kids can then cut the hair off their eggs and add it into lovely in those egg sandwiches!