Time spent outdoors has a multitude of benefits for children, including a reduced risk of behavior problems, improved attention spans, an easier time falling asleep at night, and increased exposure to Vitamin D. These are added on to the overall benefits of play in children.
According to Dr Kenneth Ginsburg of the American Academy of Pediatrics, “Play in an outdoor, natural environment allows children to explore both their world and their own minds … Nature places virtually no bounds on the imagination and engages all of the senses.”
Here are five outdoor play ideas to help get your child outside and having fun.
Go for a walk or bike ride
A walk or bike ride is an inexpensive and enjoyable way for the whole family to spend time outdoors, and it gets your child moving. You can do a short trip around the block after dinner, go for a hike in the forest, or even try walking to perform certain nearby errands. Here are our top bicycle safety tips for children.
Create a sensory bin
Children learn through hands-on experiences, and a sensory bin or table is a great way to encourage this learning. You can create a sensory bin using household items, or buy a dedicated sensory table. There are many different options for a sensory bin that will encourage your child’s creativity and curiosity while helping them learn new skills. Not to mention, playing with a sensory bin outdoors makes messes less of an issue.
Blowing bubbles is always a fun activity for children, and can help them to increase their fine and gross motor skills. Store-bought bubbles are typically inexpensive, but you can also create a bubble mix at home. You can find a homemade bubble recipe here, along with some science experiments you and your child can do together.
Go on a scavenger hunt
Scavenger hunts are a fun way for your child to spend time outdoors while engaging their bodies and minds. You can hold this scavenger hunt in your own backyard or any other outdoor area that’s safe for your child to explore. You can hide your own objects, or even simply take photos of plants, flowers, and trees for your child to find. Depending on your child’s age, you can create a checklist for them to use.
Look for what will encourage activity
Whether or not your child has an obvious interest in sports or physical activity, you can find a toy or game that will encourage them to move. You can play catch, Frisbee, soccer, or tag as a family and customize the activity level based on what your child enjoys and is capable of. You can also look for toys and games that might seem less intense for your child, such as a skipping rope, hopscotch, or limbo.
With these five ideas for outdoor play, you will be giving your child the opportunity to build skills and gain a wide range of health benefits. What’s more, your child will have fun while learning.