If you have a day job making it hard to take your toddlers to the garden during the day, take them out in the evenings. It will give you and your kid a much needed change of atmosphere and will make you feel at peace.
Winter season experiences early sunset and reduced daylight hours. So, by the time you reach the garden it could already be dark or close to dark but don’t let that bring you down. Evenings and night give a whole new perspective to a garden. The stars come out, birds return back to the nest and nocturnal and vespertine (organisms which out at dusk) animals are compelled to leave their homes in search of food. You would hear the dogs bark and cats purr, and if you are lucky you may also hear the hoot of an owl. As kids are always learning, this is a perfect opportunity to creatively engage them.
Activities during dusk and late evenings mainly revolve around two elements.
- Night Sky – Stars
Toddlers are always happy to include animals in their activity. Their fascination towards animals simply arises from the fact that they are so much different than us. Take your kid to the zoo once and endure several years of them whining to go to the zoo every Sunday. Tell them about different animals and watch them pick their favourite one. And what is a better place to find animals than in their own natural habitat?
- Guess the sounds:
Animals are most active during dusk and dawn. They are either returning back to their homes or are emerging from them which is the reason why you can hear a lot of chitter-chatter amongst animals at this time. Make the best out of this by playing guess the sound activity with your toddler. Ask him to guess the animal whose sound you hear. It could be a bark, a hoot, a crock, a tweet, a chirp, a hoot, a moo, a squeak, a buzz, a grunt or a hiss. You could also ask your toddler to identify the sound of wind, rustling of leaves, cycle horns, etc.
- Where is your home?
This is also another activity you can play with your kids at dusk. This activity could be a sequel to the previous or could be played independently. Ask them where an animal stays, or ask them to name the animal which stays in a particular place. For instance, a dog stays in a kennel, a bird stays in its nest, a rabbit stays in a burrow, and a lion stays in its cave etc. This game is fun, engaging, and can be played anywhere and anytime.
Night skies are enchanting. Stars always trigger toddlers’ fascination to a point where they start singing twinkle twinkle little star every time they look at the night sky. The endless fascination for stars can be induced in the activities mentioned below.
- Counting the stars:
Stars can be a great way to learn counting. Count from backward and forward and make your toddlers repeat after you. Ask them questions like ‘how many stars do you see in the sky,’ ‘or can you count five stars?’ This is a great activity for toddlers who are just learning to count.
- Planet or Star? :
Tell your toddler the basic difference between a planet and a star (stars twinkle and planets don’t twinkle). And point at one and ask them if it is a planet or a star. Do this over and over again to firm their observational difference between them. Now ask them to count the number of stars and planets separately before comparing their proportions in the night sky.
- Join the Stars:
Ask your toddler to join the stars with imaginary lines to form imaginary objects. This would form the base for geometry and teach them about angles and lines. This activity will also trigger their imagination as they would turn these straight lines to curved lines to make it seem like an object.
These activities are fun and engaging but are based on variables of nature which keep changing. Stars are impossible to spot on a cloudy day and a garden in the middle of the city may not be home to a lot of animals. You can always substitute these activities with stories and songs. You could narrate stories to your toddlers and compose your own songs. You can also mimic animal sounds and play games like ‘what animal am I?’ These games are fun and easy to play.
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