Why it is Important to Let Our Kids Play Outside
Playing outside is great for our children’s minds and mental well-being. Playing outside decreases the incidence of depression which is on the rise in children, increases their attention spans, and also decreases obesity (also on the rise).
Playing outside is a great way for children to get to know nature, gain an appreciation for the environment, increase their independence, learn safe risk-taking behaviour, increase their coordination and motor skills as well as many other benefits.
So, let’s go play outside!
These outside activities are just the beginning. There are more activities on the It’s All Kid’s Play blog as well as Pinterest. And sometimes I share ideas on Twitter, too! Oh! And be sure to check out the book I wrote, too. It includes even more travel games as well as over 1,000 other play activities so no matter where you are and what your interests or age, there is something in there for you–guaranteed! Check it out!
Play Fetch with a Dog
Does your dog know how to fetch a toy and bring it back to you? If not, maybe you can teach them how.
If your family goes in an RV most of the time, ask if you are old enough to stay beside them in a tent. Bring a friend for extra fun. Not going anywhere soon? Try camping in your backyard! (Or even setting up your tent in the basement–that’s what we do for sleepovers–extra fun!_
A bonfire is a large fire. You can make a small ‘bonfire’ or campfire in a fire pit.
Safety First: Never play with or around a fire. Make sure you have an adult set up the fire and light it for you. Also make sure you have water ready to put out any part of a fire that gets out of control.
Toast Marshmallows Over a Fire
To toast marshmallows, let your fire burn down to just coals or very small flames. Be careful: Your fire and the pit will still be very hot. Place a marshmallow on a roasting stick and hold it over the coals. Watch that it doesn’t start on fire. If it catches on fire, remove it slowly from the fire as it will get all slippery on your roasting stick and could fall/fling off on somebody! Eek!
Check out the awesome s’more recipe on the food fun page.
Sing Campfire Songs
If you don’t know any campfire songs, ask your parents or grandparents to teach you some. You can also find campfire songs in camping or song books in the library (ask a librarian for help) or find some on the Internet. You can also make up your own songs. 🙂
Tell Scary Ghost Stories Around the Campfire
If you don’t know any scary/ghost stories, ask your parents or grandparents to share some with you. You can also find scary ghost stories in library books (ask a librarian for help) or search for ghost stories on the Internet.
Try to Go Over-Bars on the Swings
Over-bars is when you swing as high as you can on the swings and try to go over the bar that holds the swings up. Hold on tight! (I’ve never met anyone who went over-bars… have you?)
Geocaching is a sport that uses a GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) receiver to find a hidden cache (a small container that contains a logbook and sometimes trinkets for trading). If you don’t have a GPS or know of one that you can borrow, you might be able to rent one from a sporting goods rental place so you can give this sport a try.
To find a hidden geocache near you, log onto the free website www.geocaching.com. You can search for nearby caches which will list the longitude and latitude coordinates to put into your GPS so you can find the cache. The website has more information about the sport as well as rules. It is free and a great way to get outside and enjoy a nice treasure hunt!
Build a Fort
Any spot like under big bushes, a hollow spot in the hedge, under a tree or under the deck makes a good spot for a fort (or a clubhouse!!).
Make A Fairy House
A fairy house is for fairies to live in. It must be made out of natural materials you find in the woods (where fairies like to live). That means, no plastic, metal, or other things that man has made. Fairies like their homes to be made out of things like leaves, bark, twigs, shells, pine cones, berries, and other natural things you can find. But fairies don’t like it when you kill things to make their home. That means, don’t pick flowers, leaves still living on a tree, or branches still growing on a tree.
Do you think a fairy will move into your house?
Make a Living Tipi
Materials needed: three bamboo sticks (or regular wood stakes or sticks—about 1 metre long (3 feet) or longer), climbing plants (like sweet peas, beans, hops, or ivy), dirt, twine, three cans or pots.
How to make a living teepee: Place dirt and one stick in each pot. Place the pots in a circle and angle the sticks in so you can tie the tops of the sticks together.
Plant seeds in each pot and water them in. As the plants grow, help direct them up the sticks so they create a tipi shape. You can build this one outside, inside, or even on the balcony of an apartment.
Variation: If you want to play in your tipi right now, you will only need cloth, string, and the sticks. Place the sticks in the ground making a triangle. Angle the sticks so you can tie the tops together. Then cover the sticks with cloth and climb in.
Draw hopscotch blocks with chalk on a sidewalk or driveway.
Want to make it more challenging? Add jumps (gaps) between numbers.
Winter? Or can’t get outside? Bring hopscotch indoors by marking out your hopscotch area with tape on the floor.
Ride a Scooter
Kick a Small Stone Around
Walking somewhere? Got a small stone or rock in front of you. Try and kick it along your path without losing it. Is there someone else with you? Try to get to it first!
Go play! If there’s a new kid, introduce yourself! You may make a new friend.
Give Someone an Under Whale on the Swing
This is a little something fun I invented for my daughter and her friends. When you are giving an under duck (giving them a big push and at the last minute, ducking under their swing as you let go) to someone on the swings, make it big and ‘whooshy’ so it is like a whale.
We also do Under Dragons–huge and roaring. Under Snake–hiss and squiggle the swing all over while you give them their under duck!)
What other animals can you do?
Sit on a swing with your friend on the swing beside you. Get someone to twist your swing around and around for you and the same for your friend. When you are super twisted, link legs with your friend. Have someone give you a huge push. Ready? One, two, three, milkshake!! (Let go with your legs and get all shaken and twisted up!)
Now do it again! And again!
Go for a Walk Around Your Neighbourhood
Get to know the people and animals in your neighbourhood, stretch your legs, and hang out with your family. (If you parents feel that they know the neighbourhood, the more likely they are to let you go explore it on your own!)
Don’t forget your helmet!
Fly a Kite
Safety First: Make sure you fly kites away from power lines and trees. If you get your kite caught in something, make sure you let go of the string and get an adult to help you get your kite down.
If you are feeling creative, make your own kite. Do you think it will fly?
Lawn Bowling / Bocce Ball
Materials needed: You will need at least 5 balls and 2 players.
One of the balls will be the ‘jack.’ The jack is usually a smaller ball. It is tossed into the playing area. The players then try to get their balls as close to the jack as they can without touching it.
Bocce Ball and Lawn Bowling are slightly different, but the basic idea in both games is that you want to get as close to the jack without touching it. The person closest to it wins.
Draw on the Sidewalk with Chalk or Paint the Sidewalk with Water
Don’t have sidewalk chalk? You can make your own using the sidewalk chalk recipe on this page.
Chalk too messy? Grab a paint brush and a container of water and paint the sidewalk with water. See if you can draw your whole picture before the paint dries. (This is a great outside activity for toddlers.)
Water Balloon Fight
Fill a balloon with water, by holding the end over the tap. Tie it off and give it a toss (outside of course!). While you can use any balloon, the special, small, water balloons are best. Usually you can find them at the dollar store.
Make a Lemonade Stand and Sell Lemonade
If it isn’t good weather for selling lemonade, you can make the stand now and sell the lemonade some other time. If you aren’t interested in selling lemonade there are other things you can sell such as homemade cards, artwork, or other crafts you’ve made.
Hint: If your parents or neighbour are holding a garage/yard sale, this is an awesome time to try and sell lemonade as people are already coming to your place to buy stuff!
Another selling hint: You can rent tables at Farmer’s Markets to sell your wares. Get together with a friend or two to help share the cost of the table. My brother used to sell pinecone owls at my parents’ honey table at farmer’s markets. They were a hit! He sold more than my parents did.
Toothpick and Pine Needle Boat Races
Race twigs or toothpicks in puddles or mud puddle streams after/during the rain. Which toothpick won?
Variation: Take a small twig or pine needle and put a tiny bit of fresh sap on the end. Place your pine needle or twig ‘boat’ in a puddle. Is it ‘driving’ around? Give it a whirl and see what happens!
Write in the Sand or Dirt
At the beach? Write in the wet, packed sand where the waves reach the land. See if you can write your message before the waves take it away!
At home? Find some packed dirt where there is no grass and write messages using your finger, a rock, or a stick. You can leave hints for friends in a game of hide and seek. Hmm… you could kind of be like “Man Tracker” and track your friends!
Looking for more? Try these places as well:
Might I also suggest this time-saver…
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