Outside Activities with Infants

The great outdoors can be the best classroom of all.

Are you looking for fun activities to do with your infant at home? Our team of early childhood curriculum experts thoughtfully curated these activities from our proprietary Life Essentials® curriculum to help your family Learn On® at home. Whether it’s during mealtime, playtime, clean up time, bath time or bedtime – our at-home curriculum is built so you can easily integrate learning opportunities in seamless, easy and fun ways.

Shake It

Level of instruction: Easy

When: Playtime, Outdoor

Time recommendation: 10-15 minutes

Participants: One-on-one

Learning Domain: Physical Development

Learning Standards: Controls hand movements, Explores objects

Materials: Rattles (at least 2)

Instructions:

Sit on the floor with your child, with at least two rattles, one in your hand. Offer your child the other rattle, and place it in his or her hand, if your child does not reach and grab it independently. Wait to see if your child will shake the rattle on his or her own. If so, celebrate and mimic your child’s action, shaking the rattle with him or her, saying, Shake, shake! You are a good shaker. Do you hear the rattle? Let’s try banging it on the carpet. If your child does not shake the rattle, model how to shake the rattle and assist your child’s movements. Say, Let me show you how to shake the rattle so you can hear the noise it makes. Hold it in your hand and your arm.

Does your child hold and control his or her hand to make a shaking or banging sound?


Ribbon Tickles

Level of instruction: Moderate

When: getting ready for day, bedtime, diapering, playtime, outdoor

Time recommendation: 5-10 minutes

Participants: One on one

Learning Domain: Physical Development

Learning Standards: Uses an ulnar grasp (closes fingers of hand against palm).

Materials: Pieces of ribbon (make sure the ribbon is not long enough to accidentally get wrapped around the child’s neck)

Instructions

Dangle the pieces of ribbon/yarn in front of your child. Use the ribbon to tickle your child’s nose and hands. Move the position of the ribbon as he or she becomes interested. Dangle the ribbon so that it tickles the back of your child’s hands and encourage him or her to grasp the ribbon.

As your child grasps the ribbon in his or her fist, you can say “You did it! You grabbed the ribbon with your hands. The ribbon is soft. Can you hold the ribbon over here?” Gently pull the ribbon from his or her grasp and tickle the other hand to continue to encourage your child to close his or her fingers around the ribbon. Observe to see if your child watches the ribbon move. Does your child reach for and grab the ribbon? Is he or she closing her hand around the ribbon?


Ice Cube Painting

Level of instruction: Detailed

When: outdoors, playtime

Time recommendation: 10-15 minutes

Participants: One on one, Siblings

Learning Domain: Creative Arts and Sensory

Learning Standards: Explores art materials; Controls hand and fingers to accomplish task

Materials: Various colors of paint (the suggested paint is a thicker, easy wash finger paint, but tempera paint also works), ice cube trays, small popsicle sticks or clothespins, finger paint paper or other paper that is thicker than construction paper, art tray or cookie sheet

Instructions

The day before this activity, make ice cube paints by pouring different colors of paint into ice cube trays, inserting a popsicle stick (or a clothespin) into the paint, and then placing the ice cube trays in the freezer to set. Before starting this activity take the paints out of the ice cube tray and place on an art tray or cookie sheet.

This activity can be completed inside or outside. Encourage your child to choose an ice cube and rub it on the paper to make designs. As the paint melts, the designs will change. Encourage your child to mix the paint colors and explore the paints. Talk with your child about how the ice cube paints feel to touch. Use descriptive language as you narrate what your child is doing.

Observe your child to see if he or she attempts to hold the ice cube. Does he or she show interest in exploring the ice cube as it begins to melt?


Bean Bag Toss

Level of instruction: Easy

When: playtime, outdoor

Time recommendation: 10-15 minutes

Participants: One on one, Siblings

Learning Domain: Physical Development     

Learning Standards: Demonstrates hand-eye coordination

Materials: Beanbags, large bucket or clothes basket

Instructions:

Place the beanbags near the bucket in an open space. Show the item to your child. Pick up one of the beanbags and gently toss it in the bucket/basket. Say, I threw the beanbag into the bucket/basket! Yay! You try. Hand a beanbag to your child and encourage him or her to throw it into the bucket/basket. Encourage him or her to toss beanbags into the bucket/basket and dump the bucket/basket back out onto the ground. Play with him or her and praise your child’s attempts.


Jack-in-the-Box

Level of instruction: Easy

When: playtime, outdoor

Time recommendation: 5-10 minutes

Participants: One on one, Child-led

Learning Domain: Cognitive Development

Learning Standards: Explores cause and effect

Materials: Jack-in-the-Box or another pop-up toy

Instructions

Place your child on a flat surface with the pop-up toy. Ask your child: Do you know what this toy does? Let’s try it and see! Demonstrate turning the wheel while the Jack-in-the-Box plays music and eventually pops up. Gently guide your child’s hand to show him or her how to turn the handle (or push the button, depending on the toy). When the toy pops, laugh and praise your child. Continue for as long as he or she is interested. Observe to see if your child attempts to turn the wheel or push the button?


Wave, Wave, Wave

Level of instruction: Easy

Time recommendation: 5 minutes

Participants: One on one, Siblings

Learning Domain: Social and Emotional Development

Learning Standards: Displays social gestures, imitates actions

Instructions

Sit facing your child and recite the poem “Wave, Wave, Wave”:

Clap, clap, clap (clap each time you say “clap”)
Wave, wave, wave (wave your hand each time you say “wave”)
Stomp, stomp, stomp (stomp your foot each time you say “stomp”)
Wave, wave, wave (wave your hand each time you say “wave”)
Smile, smile, smile (point to your own smile)
Wave, wave, wave (wave your hand each time you say “wave”)

Follow the hand gestures and encourage your child to gesture along with you. That’s it, you’re waving! Wave, wave, wave!

Observe to see if your child waves along with you? Does your child smile?

Looking for more activities for you and your infant?

  • Getting Ready for the Day: Turn routine activities at the beginning of your child’s day into learning moments.
  • Playtime : Playtime is a great way to teach your baby without it even feeling like learning.
  • Bedtime: End your child’s day by integrating learning into their bedtime routine.

Or return to the Life Essentials® At Home page to find activities to explore with other age groups.