It’s time to ditch those heavy jackets and winter boots! With spring just around the corner, everyone is eager for a little fresh air and outdoor fun. Summer break and beach season are still a long way off, but there are plenty of things to do outside that can get you and your kids up and moving.
The importance of outdoor play
Winter can make us a little sedentary, but encouraging an active lifestyle is important for a developing mind and body. Outdoor time fosters creativity, provides mental stimulation and reduces stress. Even better, making it a point to get out of the house lets you truly enjoy each other’s company—without the ever-present distractions of television screens and video games. It seems obvious, but study after study confirms that children aren’t spending enough time outside.
Make your next trip outside more fun than ever for your children with crafts, games, and activities they can’t do indoors. These activities don’t have to be elaborate and you don’t have to spend a lot of cash. (Talk about a huge return on investment!) Here are some fun ways to play outdoors that will engage your child’s mind, spark the imagination, and challenge his or her physical abilities.
- Create an obstacle course
Mastering skills such as jumping, running, throwing, and kicking are an essential part of a child’s development. The key to coming up with great obstacle course ideas is to think like a kid! You can have your child (and his or her friends) do a set of challenges, such as kicking tennis, Pull and Ride, Reach and Toss, and Walk and Weave. Don’t be afraid to join them in the fun! The kids will be more entertained and stay involved with the game if you’re cheering them on and even running the course with them.
- Go on a treasure hunt
Most children are enamoured with the idea of searching for buried treasure. A backyard treasure hunt is a fun way to help kids explore their environment in a new way. You can make your own treasure hunt using photos from magazines or clip art from the web. If you’re short on time, you can go online to find hunts made by others. Hide some stickers, candy bars, glow sticks, and other cool prizes in the yard and make a map, then let loose the treasure-hunters! If it’s Easter, you can have fun decorating, hiding, and searching for the eggs. If you’re doing this for a child’s birthday party, why not up the ante by giving the treasure hunt a cool pirate theme?
- Enjoy a picnic lunch
Picnics are a wonderful way to create sweet memories on a cool spring day. Not every outdoor activity has to involve a tonne of exercise, although there’s nothing like throwing around a Frisbee at a picnic lunch. Relax with the whole family by putting together a picnic basket. It’s easy, cheaper than going to a restaurant, and gets everyone out of the house (including Fido)! Plus, while the kids are off running around, you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy a few romantic moments with your spouse.
- Fly a kite
Kite flying is a fun and relaxing activity the entire family can enjoy. Just make sure you find a nice, open field and go out on a breezy day for the best results. Your child can even build and fly their own kite using this great tutorial! If you choose to buy a kite instead, ensure that you purchase one that’s easy enough for them to use, and work with your kids to help them master the basics of kite flying.
- Connect with nature
Camping and hiking are great ways to connect children with nature. It allows them to observe the natural world while also promoting physical fitness. They’ll have the opportunity to learn basic skills in map reading and first aid. At night, you can cook up some tasty s’mores, tell spooky stories around the campfire (don’t forget to bring a flashlight to hold under your chin), and observe the sky. If you’re lucky, perhaps you’ll see a shooting star!
Shake off the cabin fever by spending some time outdoors! Hopefully, this list of ideas will inspire and motivate you to get out there and play. Not only are these activities fun, but they’re also very inexpensive. Most importantly, they’ll help your children build important skills and create wonderful memories that they’ll treasure for the rest of their lives.