In a world full of tv, video games and phones, getting your children outside can be a challenge. Here are five creative ways to get your children outside!
By Sandi, Contributing Writer
When was the last time your children played outside? Today, children suffer from nature-deficit disorder. This term was coined by Richard Louv, author of the book Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder and co-founder of the Children & Nature Network (C&NN). It refers to children having less experience with and connection to nature over the last couple of decades due to the increase in technology; over-scheduled families; and fears related to crime, injury, traffic, and nature itself (e.g., bug bites and sun damage).
Yet, playing outside is so important for our children’s health and well-being. The natural world offers solace and comfort unlike what we can find in any man-made environment. Spending time in nature promotes healing and helps us feel happier and more relaxed.
If you are looking for a way to get your children to put their screens down and play outside more, try some of these creative ways they can explore the natural world around them.
5 Creative Ways To Get Your Children Outside
1. Outdoor Art Projects
Tired of cleaning up the mess from your children’s art projects? Why not bring the art outside? Now your children can be creative and spend time outdoors. Try some of these art projects:
- Let your child decorate your sidewalk or patio with chalk.
- Bring an easel and paint out to your backyard so they can enjoy painting nature scenes.
- Play-doh picnic—set up a blanket and have your children make some pretend food out of clay or play-doh.
- Nature art—ask your children to collect leaves, flowers, sticks, seeds, and pine cones to make some natural artwork.
2. Obstacle Course
Your children will love this fun outdoor exercise activity. You can set it up yourself or have them help you. Go through your house and garage and gather a variety of fitness equipment. Create several stations for different activities, such as jump rope, cones to run around, a box to jump over, and a basketball net to shoot a ball into.
You can also have some stations that do not require equipment; for example, they can do jumping jacks, push-ups, or hop on one foot. With older children, you can even incorporate swimming or bike riding into the obstacle course. The best part is that each time they can create a unique course, giving them a new challenge.
3. Scavenger Hunt
Who doesn’t like an old-fashioned scavenger hunt? This is a really easy activity that you can do throughout the year using different themes depending on the season or holiday. If you have a range of ages participating, ask the older children to hide the items for the younger ones to find. The ideas are endless—you can do anything from hiding toys to clues that lead to a final destination or treasure. You can also reinforce the outdoor theme by having the children look for various nature items such as sticks, leaves, flowers, rocks, or a vegetable from your garden.
4. Volunteer Work
Teaching our children about giving back to the community is a special gift that will make them happier and appreciate what they have in their own lives. A perfect way to get your children outside is by doing volunteer work as a family for local environmental groups. Some ideas include:
- Volunteer at a community garden by planting or weeding.
- Participate in a trash clean-up at a beach, lake, playground or other location that needs attention.
- Contact a local farm to see if they need help with activities like weeding, planting seeds, sifting compost, digging, or watering.
- Find or organize a tree or flower planting project in your town.
- Identify nature centers where you can spend time helping.
What better way to get your children outside than by helping in the family garden? This outdoor activity offers so many benefits, such as teaching them about healthy eating and where our food comes from.
The best part about gardening is that your children will want to visit the garden over and over again to check on the progress of the produce growing. It also gives them a special connection to what they eat. They will be proud to see the food they helped grow be part of their meals and will better understand how much effort goes into making the food we enjoy every day.
What Creative Activities Get Your Children Outside?