Remember the days when nothing was needed to play and have fun except your imagination, your siblings or friends, and whatever else you could find? Those days don’t have to be lost or forgotten.
Playing outdoors improves the health of a child—mentally and physically. It has benefits beyond the physical activity it provides. It improves sleep, mood and social skills; offers a break from devices; improves attention span; and above all, heightens creativity and imagination.
It is also good for adults, especially parents. Afterall, we said those days don’t have to be lost or forgotten. Now instead of your siblings or friends, you can enjoy these activities with your own children.
1. Play classic games.
Remember these? I Spy, Duck Duck Goose, Mother May I, Cops and Robbers, Hide ‘N Seek, Seek the Hider, Red Light Green Light, Sardines, Sharks and Minnows, and Simon Says are just a few of the many easy and fun classics. Teach your child how to play the game and join in the excitement with them. Are you feeling nostalgic yet?
2. Have a scavenger hunt.
The opportunities with this are endless. Send children on a scavenger hunt to find whatever it is you challenge them to find—4 flowers, 5 leaves, 3 sticks, or all the rocks out of the yard (bonus!)
3. Play in the dirt.
Say no more! What kid doesn’t like playing in the mud, and with permission no less. Add water to the dirt to make it messier! Help your child make mud pies, mud sculptures or even paint with the mud.
4. Make birdfeeders.
Don’t just make any birdfeeder; make one from nature. Encourage your child to find whatever materials they want and get creative. Their birdhouse may be from sticks or stones—but hopefully not bones (no pun intended!)
5. Make a fairy house.
Let your child embellish your garden, or any outdoor space for that matter. Have them build a house for a fairy. Encourage them to get as big and as creative as they wish, even making a sidewalk to the house. Don’t forget to check it daily to see if a fairy has moved in!
6. Look for shapes in the clouds.
This never gets old. Lay down and start naming the objects in the clouds together. Take it up a notch and point to the same cloud. Now guess what you think the other person sees in that cloud shape.
7. Find different stars and constellations.
When it gets dark and the sky is clear, head out and find as many constellations or different stars as you can. Watch for a shooting star, and don’t forget to make a wish when you see one. This could even turn into a campout under the stars!
8. Catch fireflies.
Who doesn’t love to catch fireflies, and who isn’t guilty of smashing them into clothes to see the glowing line? See how many fireflies your little one can catch, and see if you still have the bug-catching skill. Gather them into a jar or a cup to watch them glow, but be sure to release them before heading inside.
9. Find the outdoor alphabet.
Going from A to Z, have your child find objects outdoors that starts with each letter of the alphabet. Try it with them; it is more challenging and exciting than you might think!
10. Climb a tree.
Another timeless outdoor activity, encourage your child to climb a tree. Take a walk through the woods and find different trees to try to climb. Climb together and “hangout” for a while, enjoying nothing but one another and nature.
We all had different childhoods, and surely there are more than 10 outdoor activities to do with only your imagination, your friends, and whatever else you can find. Step back into the past and enjoy the present, making memories you won’t forget with the activities you loved to play.