It is no secret that children today have higher rates of obesity than ever before, that time playing video games or on the computer have usurped the place of outdoor activities, and that kids are missing out on crucial element of life: the carelessness and joy that comes from playing outdoors. Here are a few ways that you can get your kids more interested in playing outside:
If you have a backyard, make it a place that your kids want to retreat to. Here are a few ways to make your backyard kid-friendly and appealing:
- Build a playhouse. Not only do kids love playing house, you can also use the playhouse as a storage space for extra toys. A children outdoor play set – such as a small kitchen or dollhouse – can also be stored in the playhouse.
- Build a tree house. Imagine an afternoon of reading and sipping lemonade (or even having lunch) out in a tree house.
- Get a climber and slide, or a swing set, for your backyard. You could even consider putting a sandbox at the base of the slide; young kids love playing in the sand and making sculptures. Kids also love swinging; sometimes it even sparks creativity or ideas for school assignments.
- If your kids like have friends over often, get them to put on a talent show with various skits, dances, comedic acts, etc. Make it a requirement to host their talent show in your backyard.
If you’re not lucky enough to have a backyard, or if you’d rather venture further, here are some other ideas to get your children passionate about the outdoors:
- Visit a nature center or arboretum. Take photographs of various plants, insects, trees and flowers, noting their species and name. You can also pick leaves and dry them in the microwave, and then preserve them in a notebook collection. The next time you are outdoors, your kids will start to spot and recognize these plants. Visiting arboretums throughout the year can also get your children to appreciate seasons, as they start to become familiar with the different types of flowers that bloom and when.
- Start a collection of “nature items.” This can include seashells from your last beach vacation, pine cones found at the park, or uniquely shaped rocks or stones found at the pond.
- Play at the park: fly kites, play Frisbee, four-square, tag, hide-and-seek or on a swing set.
- Invest in bicycles. Once your children are confident riding a bike, you can ride to the park.