By Michele Reimer

Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggested doctors start prescribing play for young children. “Play supports the formation of the safe, stable, and nurturing relationships with all caregivers that children need to thrive,” the report said.

Summer is a perfect opportunity to take a drive to escape the summer heat and incorporate some outdoor activities that allow toddlers and preschoolers to spend time outside exercising their bodies and minds.

Play in an outdoor, natural environment helps engage a young child’s senses. First Things First reminds families that a nature trip doesn’t have to be a far-off place, it could be a neighborhood park or local splash pads. Here are a few activities to get you started:

  • Go on a nature scavenger hunt – think of things you might see while outside then use the list to collect items as you walk.
  • Show your child how to explore the forest floor or grassy lawn.
  • Point out bugs.
  • Talk about what you see, hear and smell.
  • Observe patterns in a stream or rainbows made by splashing water.
  • Have a meal outside.

Parents are also encouraged to allow their child some time for free play, where the child chooses what activities to do that will allow their imagination and creativity to take over.

For more ways on how parents can support their little one’s development and learning through play watch FTF’s short video at

Use the information above to find some time to get outdoors with your infants, toddlers and preschoolers, so they can learn, grow and thrive.

About First Things First – First Things First is a voter-created, statewide organization that funds early education and health programs to help kids be successful once they enter kindergarten. Decisions about how those funds are spent are made by local councils staffed by community volunteers. To learn more, visit