In the last 20 years, there’s been a huge reduction in the amount of time that children spend outdoors. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences says that a lack of outdoor time can have serious repercussions for your child’s health. Spending time in nature can actually help decrease your child’s risk for obesity, heart disease, asthma and attention-deficit disorders. It also helps your child’s eyesight develop properly and builds up their Vitamin D supply. In fact, according to the National Wildlife Foundation, just seeing green spaces can instantly reduce your child’s stress and anxiety. Sounds like some pretty important benefits come from playing outside, right? Check out these 10 outdoor activities that your kids will love. They’ll be having so much fun; it will be hard to make them come in for dinner.
Go Bird Watching
Though it sounds like something your Grandfather would’ve done, your kids will actually love to get out in nature and explore the wildlife found in the trees. All you need for this fun activity is a pair of binoculars and a bird watching book. Your kids will be excited to track which birds they find. To up the ante, try looking for an endangered species. Spotting one of these birds can come with monetary rewards!
Watch a Backyard Movie
Plan a movie night and invite your child’s friends over to watch. You’ll want to set up some seats outside to make the theatre. Then, use a wall of your house or a sheet to make a screen. Use a projector to play your child’s favorite movie selection and have plenty of popcorn and snacks to go around. The most important thing to remember is to check the weather report for rain.
Have a Tournament
One of the best ways to keep kids engaged outside is to strike up a little family competition. Decide if you want to play croquet, volleyball, four-square, ping-pong or have an obstacle course or relay race. Then, grab your equipment and a timer! The sky’s the limit when choosing what game to play, so use your imagination. It will be something your kids will remember for years to come.
Plant a Tree
There’s nothing like getting your hands in the dirt to make your child a lifelong fan of the outdoors. When you start getting your spring gardening underway, have your child become part of the process. They can pick up sticks or help to dig holes in your veggie garden. Let them pick out a tree, flower or certain vegetable to be responsible for. They’ll be so proud to watch it grow.
Go On a Picnic
There’s nothing more fun than packing up a wicker basket and a blanket and heading out to find the perfect picnic spot. Your kiddo will love the adventure of eating in a place out of the ordinary. And while it’s fun to head to a local park, you can also have a picnic adventure right in your own backyard. To make it even more exciting, choose to have a picnic dinner outside once a week during the warm months.
Learn to Stargaze
Just above you, there’s a whole other world that we can explore from Earth. Learning about the constellations and outer space is exciting to kids. Download a stargazer’s guide and head outdoors to find animals in the sky. If you have a telescope, let your kiddos get a glimpse at what a star looks like up close. Just check the weather and pick a clear sky, choose an area that’s free of trees or buildings and bring a blanket or light jacket.
Make a Splash Pad
Water is to kids as honey is to bees. Just set up a table for water play and it will be hard to pull your kiddos away. Don’t forget about a fun water sprinkler in the backyard or just spend time hosing down your child after you water the plants. One afternoon, go ahead and feel up a ton of water balloons and hide them around your house where only you know where. Then, ambush your kiddos in a “parents vs. kids” balloon battle. They won’t know what hit them. To a kid, there’s nothing better than hours of getting wet.
Have a Campout
Build a campfire, roast some hotdogs and pack enough s’mores for everyone! Having a backyard campout is one of the coolest things you can do outside. Spend time together (no electronics allowed) talking and storytelling. Then when it’s time for lights out, retreat to the tent right there in your own backyard. It’s the stuff memories are made of.
Build a Fort
Help your child find a special spot (free of poison ivy) to set up a secret fort or hideaway. Collect sticks or look for a cool rock to set up shop. For extra fun, bring along some books to read.
Do you have an old chair or picnic table? Have your child pick out a favorite color scheme and then let them go free! Since your outside, there are no worries about spilling paint. Before they come in, just give them a good wash with the garden hose. You’ll be surprised to see how beautiful their creation turns out.
Conduct a Science Experiment
There are tons of great science ideas you can try outside. Make a rocket ship out of a soda bottle, melt some crayons, fry an egg or make your own ice cream. Taking the time to teach your child about the beauty of science and the wonder of nature will have lifelong benefits for your child’s education.
Playing outside can teach your child to use their imagination, explore the world around them and become one with nature. The health benefits like a reduction in obesity and heart disease paired with the rejuvenation of your child’s mind are too great to pass up. What are you waiting for? Get outside!