Skip to content
First Things First First Things First

First Things Blog

Information and inspiration for parents and caregivers of babies, toddlers and preschoolers

Active, outdoor play boosts learning

mom and daughter walking through a grass field

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 AAP report said.

Play in an outdoor, natural environment helps engage a young child’s senses and allows toddlers and preschoolers to exercise their bodies and minds. A nature trip doesn’t have to be a faroff place it could be a visit to a neighborhood park or local splash pad. Just make sure you protect your little ones from the sun.

You might be interested in:
Mom and toddler sitting underneath a sun shade umbrella

Throwin’ shade at the sun: protecting your kids outdoors

As Arizonans, we have learned to avoid the sun as much as possible. We take a lot of precautions too, from endlessly looping a parking lot in order to find a…

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:


Ofelia Gonzalez is a public information officer at First Things First. You can reach her at​

Stay Up To Date.

Join our email list to keep up with the latest news and information from FTF

Send me:

© First Things First. All Rights Reserved. • Privacy PolicyAccessibilityWebsite FeedbackOmbudsman-Citizens Aide