We’re excited that Summer has arrived in SA. We are a nation built for heat. Parents often face the challenge of keeping their little ones occupied and engaged without resorting to screen time. While technology has its place, toddlers need to experience the wonders of the real world and enjoy the great outdoors. Here are some creative and screen-free activities to keep your toddlers happily occupied during the sunny South African summer.
Nature Walks and Scavenger Hunts
Let’s be honest, we have stunning landscapes. Take your toddlers for nature walks or hikes suitable for their age and introduce them to the beauty of the natural world. Create scavenger hunts, encouraging them to find and collect natural treasures like leaves, rocks, or seashells for those families living in our beautiful coastal regions.
Water play keeps toddlers cool and entertained while the sun shines brightly. Visit local beaches, rivers, or swimming pools, but always prioritise safety and lather on the sunscreen. Consider investing in kiddie pools, sprinklers, or water tables for backyard fun. Water play allows toddlers to develop motor skills and stay refreshed. Never leave your toddlers unsupervised when they are playing in or near water.
Arts and Crafts
Get creative with your little ones by organising arts and crafts sessions. Let them explore their artistic side with non-toxic paints, coloured pencils, play dough and craft supplies. Create masterpieces that can be displayed with pride, and involve them in choosing what they want to create.
Picnics and Outdoor Meals
Our summer provides the perfect opportunity for picnics in parks, gardens, or your backyard. Let your toddler help prepare easy picnic snacks, like sandwiches or fruit slices. Outdoor meals can be a wonderful bonding experience for the family.
Storytime and Outdoor Reading
Take advantage of the warm weather to enjoy storytime outdoors. Set up a cosy reading nook in your garden or local park, complete with blankets and cushions. Engage your toddler’s imagination through captivating stories, stimulating their love for books. Toddlers love being outdoors at night, so light some candles (or use your loadshedding backup lights) for fun nighttime reading.
Introduce your toddler to the joys of gardening. Give them a small plot or container garden, and let them get their hands dirty planting flowers, herbs, or vegetables. Gardening teaches responsibility, patience, and a connection to nature.
Visit Wildlife Reserves or Botanical Gardens
It often takes tourists visiting SA to remind us of the beauty we’re surrounded by. Plan a visit to a nearby wildlife reserve, the botanical gardens or an animal sanctuary where your toddler can observe and learn about various animals. Such trips can be both educational and exhilarating for them.
Build a Fort
Encourage creativity and teamwork by helping your toddler build a fort or a mini treehouse. They can create a special hideaway for imaginative play using cardboard boxes, blankets, and cushions.
Playdates and Social Interaction
Arrange playdates with friends or family with toddlers of a similar age. Social interaction is vital for a child’s development, and it’s a great way to keep them engaged while allowing them to have fun with others.
On clear summer evenings, explore the night sky with your little one. Point out constellations, planets, and the moon. Stargazing can be an educational and awe-inspiring experience for toddlers.
While screen time has its place, please pay attention to the wonders that regular play without screen time has for them. We have ample opportunities for outdoor adventures, creativity, and family bonding.