In these unsettling days of social isolation, we are all eagerly looking forward to a time when it’s safe to be together with friends and family again. In the meantime, we’ve compiled this list of fun outdoor activities to do with your children to help keep everyone’s focus on the happier times ahead.
Fresh air and movement are essential to your well-being, but getting out of the house to relax, let alone exercise can be a challenge at times. Let your children help motivate you to get off the couch and into the great outdoors. If your little ones are like many of today’s screen-loving kids, you’ll both enjoy the rewards of a little nature and fun-time togetherness.
Here are eight easy and fun activities you can enjoy outside with your children.
1. Corn Hole is a fun game for all ages. Use string or chalk to make a circle for the target. If you don’t have real beanbags, you can tape shut sandwich bags filled with sand or dry beans. Try to throw the beanbag into the target. Bocci is another easy target game that can be played on a lawn with one small ball or rock thrown out as the target. Players then toss any handy object to see who gets the closest.
An easy scorekeeper for games like these is a paint stir stick marked off one to ten. You can use two clothespins marked with each team’s name to track points.
2. Kids love chalk. Beyond making art, chalk can transform a driveway into roads for scooters and small bikes. Set up 4-way stops, jug-handles, even a gas station convenience store where kids can stop for a pretend or an actual snack-time fuel-up.
3. Crafting fairy houses is a great way to tap children’s rich imagination. Collect bark, twigs, moss, stones, pinecones, acorns, and more, and find a hidden place to build. You’ll be amazed at how intricate these little worlds can become. If your kids are young, leave tiny fairy notes in the house for them to discover.
4. Another crafty project is making wind-chimes from household items : small bells, garden tools, unused silverware, or teacups. Or string together a mobile from a tree-branch made from found items like ribbon, pinecones, and flowers. Hang these from a tree or a string stretched between two poles.
5. Water and bubbles can transform a hot day into cool fun. Fill a big baking pan with water and liquid dish soap or bubble bath. Give little kids a whisk to whip up bubbles or a straw to blow them into big piles. Toss in a few measuring cups and a funnel and it’s like bath time outside. And speaking of cleaning up, kids love playing with shaving cream—they can make pretend beards or sculpt it in a number of ways. (Just be mindful that soapy water and shaving cream spilled on the lawn can kill the grass, so play on a porch or driveway.)
6. With a little preparation, treasure hunts can get everyone outside and exploring. Leave a series of clues that sends kids from one place to another, each clue driving them closer to a reward or treasure—a cookie, trinket, or the chance to choose the next activity. Make a map of the yard or neighborhood, or mark a trail with stone cairns or popsicle sticks to help kids navigate where to go next. Trails can zigzag all over the yard or park.
For those without space to spread out, a scavenger hunt can be just as fun. Walk your neighborhood to find a list of things commonly spotted there: fire hydrant, stop sign, dog, squirrel, garbage can. Or sequentially find all the letters of the alphabet on signs or license plates.
7. Kids are great at building outdoor forts out of pretty much anything—tall branches set up teepee-style or a tarp strung between trees, even a broom propped up between two chairs with a blanket roof can work. If there’s enough space, set up beach chairs inside for a cozy storytime.
8. Sometimes the best way to enjoy being outside together is to have a picnic. Enlist your kids’ help in packing a variety of easy, portable snacks—think sandwiches, crackers and cheese, trail mix, veggie sticks, grapes—and a jug or jar of lemonade with some paper cups. Grab a blanket and go. Maybe it’s to the park or maybe it’s just the backyard, but whenever you eat outside, everything seems to taste better.
We hope these ideas will spark some of your own, too. As we’re keenly aware these days, the most important thing is spending time together. Adding in a daily dose of fresh air and sunshine make it all the sweeter.
Written by Amy Klinger for Matcha in partnership with OrthoCarolina.
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