This is less a specific activity and more an invitation for caregivers to look to unexpected places to invite children to dig at their leisure throughout all the seasons in your backyard. Check out our tips below for designating a digging center in your backyard!

If you have ever taken a walk around a neighborhood block, you might find that people are very creative and can find space to plant flowers just about anywhere! We believe in embracing this philosophy with outdoor play, as we invite children to set up shop and pretend to be gardeners. Check out some tips below for getting children digging!

Set up Time: 10 minutes



We recommend designating a digging area in your yard space, as there are so many benefits for children. One place that is often good is underneath bushes, as bushes have sturdy roots, and other items don’t grow as well in the shade. For example, you can give children space to dig underneath an azalea bush or a under boxwood.

We also are showing a sort of barren patch of dirt. A typical adult might just see this as a patch of dirt, but we see this as a patch of dirt full of opportunities for great sensory play! You can even make a special sign that says “Digging Area” so that children know where they can dig.


We recommend adding lots of pots, buckets, shovels (not pictured), as well as any loose parts you like. For example, you can add some little glass stones, or corks, or rock collections from other parts of the yard. Additionally, add watering cans so that children can make mud for even more fun.


    • Kids sized shovels
    • Pots
    • Buckets
    • Watering cans

    Learning Through Play

    Physical: Gross Motor – Gardening and digging is wonderful for children’s gross and fine motor development. They might squat and balance using their core muscles to dig, they will use their arm muscles to carry water over to make mud, and will use their fine motor skills to use a small shovel to fill up a tiny little pot. Play outside for as much and as long as you can, as the fresh air and sunlight is also beneficial for children’s sleep, appetite, and overall well-being.

    Social-Emotional: Empowerment – Some children and parents might have an aversion to children getting dirty. But, research shows that digging in the dirt is good for serotonin production (mental health), and the exposure to microbes is good for building the immune system. Additionally, it is good for children to have exposure to different physical sensations because it empowers them to ask for what they need after hours of playing outdoors (change of clothes, wash their hands). Talk to parents about dressing children in comfortable clothes that can get dirty, and be sure to talk about these benefits!

    School Readiness: Measurement – We love digging for building an intuitive understanding of measurement! Children will learn how to gauge how much dirt they need to fill small, medium, and large pots, in addition to understanding how much water and dirt come together to make the perfect mud consistency. Or, talk about how deep down you can dig before the dirt starts to change color or texture, or how far down the earth worms live!

    See this activity in the Rayz Kidz app along with other fun activities. Rayz Kidz is your trusted source for play-based activities featuring over 100 themes and 500+ hands-on activities and clear descriptions of the beautiful learning that is happening through play.