Outdoor play in the summer

Struggling for ways to get some outdoor time over the summer in the UAE? We’ve got you covered!
First, timing is important. It is best to avoid the hours from 11 am to 4pm.
Aim for early mornings or late evenings. Some ways to achieve an early morning start are to pre-pack some breakfast (store in the fridge) the night before and eat it outdoors. Breakfasts in the park are a favourite routine at our house. Unstructured time outdoors, just on the grass, watching the birds and plants can be so restorative not just for children, but for us as well. Post dinner, or late night walks are also a fun way to incorporate outdoor activities if your little one is a late sleeper. Children love something forbidden and late walks are great over the summer when there isn’t a fixed morning wake up the next day. Second, dress for the weather and hydrate.
Wear breathable light clothes. Loose fitting clothes that cover the body without being restrictive and sunscreen are essential. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Along with water, based on your child’s age you can consider giving oral rehydration solutions, coconut water or some salt/sugar as it will restore salts lost during the sweaty play outside. Hat and sunglasses are also good things to keep handy. A fun game we play at our house is shade or sun? It’s taught my child to be aware and mindful of spending time in direct sunlight.
Third, what can we do outdoors?
Of course top of the list is water play. You can have a water table, a small blow up pool or a garden hose, and when you add in something like water guns or water balloons the fun just never stops. You can change up water play by adding different objects (add a steel pan from the kitchen and some ladles), or by adding a drop of color to change it up. You can also do a sink or float experiment by having them drop in and predict whether an object will sink or float. Another twist on this for older children is to give them different water colors, some natural loose parts (petals, leaves,etc) and have them make their own potions!
Another great variation on water play is adding ice. Freeze toys overnight in about 2 inches of water and it makes for a great melting pot fun. If you submerge the entire toy, it could take too long to unfreeze and can be frustrating for younger children. You can add salt or water in a squeeze bottle for melting fun along with scoops and tongs. Another ice idea is adding floating colored ice cubes to a bowl of water along with a mesh to scoop it out. You can add different colored bowls to encourage color sorting.
What are some things you can have outdoors for play? Some big things to have outdoors permanently would be a mud kitchen, an easel, a piklar (can be outdoors or indoors, but the wood must be treated for outdoor use), a hose, a pool (or a blow up one), balance beam or stepping stones. Other smaller useful items are a magnifying glass, kaleidoscopes, outdoor games like mini golf, cricket, horse shoe throwing, frisbees, balls. Another thing you can do is take the toys your child doesn’t play with (eg. their animal figures or wooden rainbow) and take them outside. Changing the play space can open up new avenues for play.
In the end, children will create their own play experiences. It’s up to us to provide the equipment and create their play environment, but they get to choose what and how they want to play. And in that choosing is where the magic happens. Have a great summer!
Shonali, mum to a toddler with another due this year, started her parenting journey 3 and a half years ago. She soon discovered that even with her masters in clinical psychology and years of experience working as a therapist, she was woefully unprepared! This inspired a deep dive into parenting techniques in the early years and eventually she took over Katie Jane Dubai. Her mission is to inform parents on evidence based practice on all things in the early years including all areas of development including speech and language, behaviour, but especially child led play. She is a passionate advocate of gentle parenting and supporting parents through these crucial beginning years.
Katie Jane Dubai has grown to be one of the most loved classes for babies and toddlers in Dubai. They offer classes like baby sign language, Mucky pups messy play and Nature Nook outdoor play classes. All their classes are child led, calm and engaging and cater to the diverse needs of children.
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