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5 Creative Ways To Get Your Children Outside

Sandi Schwartz April 29, 2016

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.

5 Creative Ways To Get Your Children Outside 2

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.

To find volunteer opportunities in your area, visit Idealist or VolunteerMatch.

5. Gardening

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?

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Sandi Schwartz is a freelance writer, editor, and researcher specializing in parenting, wellness, environmental issues, and human behavior. She enjoys analyzing everyday life using science, humor, and a passion to improve the world. Her blog Happy Science Mom provides a parenting toolkit for raising happy, balanced children.
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12 Comments

  1. […] 5 Creative Ways To Get Your Children Outside […]

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  2. Love these ideas, Sandi! We do a lot of water play in our outdoor water table. The best part about our water table is it can be filled with anything to get a different sensory experience each time! Leaves, sand, rocks, shaving cream, anything you can think of!

    Reply

  3. These are wonderful ideas. I’ve been wanting to do some kind of scavenger hunt for a while, but the obstacle course would be fantastic! I’m looking forward to getting some serious gardening in this year as well. Great list!

    Reply

  4. […] Get them outside. Children are spending less time outdoors and suffering from nature-deficit disorder. This is unfortunate because a growing number of studies show that spending time in nature can improve mental health, such as reducing stress. Here are five creative ways to get your children outside. […]

    Reply

  5. […] Remember to keep this play time simple. Fun doesn’t have to involve expensive toys or games with set rules. Let your children enjoy basic activities like blowing bubbles, making up their own dances, drawing with chalk on the sidewalk, or jumping rope. Here are 5 creative ways to get your children outside. […]

    Reply

  6. […] Play Outside. Even if your children have recess at school, they still need additional time to unwind after school and on the weekend. And I am not talking about sports practice. Children need unstructured free play to be creative and let loose with their friends or siblings. Let them jump rope, blow bubbles, and make their own obstacle courses. Here are five creative ways to get your children outside. […]

    Reply

  7. […] something outside that you normally do inside (e.g. have a picnic, do an art activity). Does it make a […]

    Reply

  8. […] toys to play with like dominoes, cards, puppets, blocks, and puzzles. Finally, encourage them to spend time outdoors exploring on their own. They can set up an obstacle course or go on a backyard nature scavenger […]

    Reply

  9. […] of us are so used to lacing up our children’s shoes before we head outdoors to play. But did you know that your children will actually be better off if you leave those shoes behind? […]

    Reply

  10. […] Every parent can make a more concerted effort to get their children outside to play more often. You don’t need a fancy Waldorf school or private forest school to have your children get more outside time. Start by focusing on the time you do get to spend together. Is this before and after school, in the evening and on the weekend? That’s great! Here are some ideas for incorporating more outdoor time: […]

    Reply

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I’m Kate, mama to 5 and wife to Ben.  I love meeting new people and hearing their stories.  I’m also a big fan of “fancy” drinks (anything but plain water counts as ‘fancy’ in my world!) and I can’t stop myself from DIY-ing everything.  I sure hope you’ll stick around so I can get to know you better!

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