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10 Surefire Ways to get your kids outside
Parenting & Child Development | a month ago
We all know that we need to spend more time outdoors and less time staring at a screen - especially our kids. Fresh air is good. Being active is good. Outdoor play is great for kids’ development. But getting kids to go outside is often easier said than done. So here are some activities and ideas to entice them off the couch and into the great outdoors (or at least the yard).
1. Get your kids a really cool outdoor playset. Okay, this one is a bit obvious coming from a playset company, but a playset is ready-made outdoor fun. There are slides to slide, swings to swing on, climbing things, pulling things, running around things. Plus a playset is a good place to hang out with friends, or it can be home base for games like tag or hide and seek and a great location for imaginary play.
But maybe owning a playset is not an option or maybe some days you just want to do something else. That’s okay. There are plenty of other ways to entice your kids outside and make it fun...
2. Organize a treasure hunt. Stash little toys or trinkets around the yard to find. You could even make a map to follow, but you don’t have to. Just tell your kids to find the treasures and they will be off.
3. On a similar note, make a scavenger hunt. You might give them clues they have to figure out to get from location to location, or you could give them simple tasks to complete like find five acorns or find something yellow, something pink, and something blue for instance. If you want to go next level, weave some chores into it: find all the balls in the yard and put them in the storage box, for instance. Just remember to keep it simple, light, and don’t make it longer than their attention spans can handle.
4. Water play (assuming it’s warm enough). Like, literally any kind of water play. Kids LOVE playing in water. You don’t need an actual body of water or anything elaborate. Water balloon fights are always popular (but they take preparation time to fill all those little balloons, and you need to be prepared to pick up all the little balloon pieces when it’s over). Running through a sprinkler is a time-honored activity, but even just a hose will do. How about washing the car or even the dog (assuming you have a pretty easygoing dog)? There’s nothing like buckets of suds and a hose to get kids laughing. Just make sure you supervise them (not that any of us here have ever forgotten they left the car window open until a little too late…).
5. A nature walk is another great way to get little ones outside and moving, and it doesn’t require going to a wilderness area (although that’s cool, too). You can walk around your neighborhood and point out different plants or flowers and trees. See if you can identify them by name. What are some interesting facts about them? Look and listen for birds and look for signs of other wildlife (if you live in an area where that is a likelihood). It is true that a kid on a walk is a kid who is probably complaining about being on a walk, but making it a nature walk where they are really asked to notice everything around them can distract them from the fact that they are actually walking. Just make sure not to push them to go beyond what their little legs or attention spans can handle.
6. Another way to add some distraction to a walk is to turn it into a photo safari. Give your kids a cheap camera. Or, if you’re feeling brave, let them use your phone to document anything they see that they think is really cool. Ask them why they choose certain things as photo-worthy and see what they say.
7. Build a fairy house against the base of a tree or big rock. . You can use just about anything in nature to make your fairy house: sticks, grass, acorns, leaves, pinecones, and pebbles are all great building materials. Just try to not to disturb any living things.
8. Make a small garden. This one will take some planning, but once it’s started, it will be something the kids can check on every day, keeping it weeded and watered, watching it’s progress, and eventually harvesting what they have grown. The key is to keep it small, so kids don’t get overwhelmed, and stick to plants that are most likely to succeed in your climate.
9. Or just play in the dirt! Most kids love getting dirty, and it turns out, it actually has health benefits like improving their immune systems, so find some dirt and let them have at it. Make a small mud patch, dress the kids in their most stained clothes, and be ready to hose them off before they come back inside.
9. Make a map of your neighborhood. Take a walk along your street to note different landmarks and details to draw on a map. If the kids are a little older, try making a map to a specific destination that is within walking or biking distance.
10. Take some “indoor” toys outdoors. This is probably the easiest one, but the novelty of a doll or action-figure, a pile of blocks, or a tea party set brought outside can lead to some great imaginative play.
These are just a few ideas for having fun outside without necessarily needing to go on a major excursion. See what works for you and your family.
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