Outdoor sensory play idea: Toddlers and preschoolers will love exploring fresh herbs and plants with this fun backyard sensory activity!
This is such a fun way for kids to work on their cutting skills. It’s also one of our favourite water play activities for engaging all the senses. The smell of fresh cut herbs, the beautiful colours of the garden, splashing in the cool water – what more could you ask for in an outdoor toddler activity?
Every year at about this time, when the garden is in full tilt, we break out the bowls, buckets and the scissors and we spend the morning making “Garden Soup”. It’s one of our favourite Springtime activities.
This year, I decided to change things up a bit, and instead of having flowers as the main ingredient in our activity, I gathered fresh herbs from around the yard and garden, thinking it would be heavenly to enjoy the pungent aromas as the kids snipped and chopped the sprigs into their “soup”.
To make our herb kitchen, I used:
- Herbs: we used cilantro, basil, oregano, dill, chives, tarragon, thyme and mint
- ladles and spoons
- cups or scoops
- large stock pot filled with water
- flowers, shells and stones (added as an afterthought)
We started off by exploring the different herbs, crushing and smelling a few of the leaves, and I explained how they’re used to add flavour to our food: oregano and basil in spaghetti and pizza sauce, mint in gum etc.
Then the hooligans gathered around our 6 dollar thrift shop coffee table , which is perfect for crafting and play at, and they chopped, plucked and snipped their leaves and stems into their bowls; perfect for fine motor and scissor skill development.
They scooped water from the big stock pot and added it to their bowls,
and they spent the better part of an hour mixing up their concoctions.
When most of the herbs had been used up, someone ran to the deck and fetched a bowl of stones and shells to add to their soup,
and I clipped some incredibly fragrant peony blooms garden, and they used the petals to garnish their bowls.
What a wonderful way to spend the morning! Water play, sensory play and fine motor development all rolled into one super Springtime activity.
And when we were finished, we scooped out the shells and stones, and dumped our “soup” into the compost bin. 🙂
If you’re curious about the denim aprons the hooligans are wearing, I make them from the legs of our old jeans. You can find my apron tutorial here:
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Jackie is a mom, wife, home daycare provider, and the creative spirit behind Happy Hooligans. She specializes in kids’ crafts and activities, easy recipes, and parenting. In 1997, Jackie stepped out of the corporate world to start a family and to open her own home daycare. She began blogging in 2011, and today, Happy Hooligans inspires more than 2 million parents, caregivers and Early Years Professionals all over the globe.