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.
Learning to share and take turns is an important part of child development. Buying a children outdoor play set can help parents and caregivers achieve this goal. By having a children’s outdoor play set in the backyard, children will be more likely to attract more of their friends to come to their house to play.
Some of the features that may be included in a playhouse are a climber and slide and a swing set. Not only will children learn the important social skill of taking turns, but will also develop important motor skills as the climb on the climber and swing on the swingset. Of course, even when the playhouse is sturdily constructed children will need plenty of supervision while playing together outside. This is a great time for parents and caregivers to monitor children’s play and offer lots of encouragement and positive reinforcement when a child lets his friend have a turn on the swingset or slide without putting up a fuss.
By giving children plenty of attention while they are playing, and providing encouragement at the right time, parents and caregivers will find teaching children to take turns becomes less of a chore than if they wait until the children are already in the middle of a conflict. It also makes playtime much more fun for everyone.
Set up a small climber in your child’s bedroom. One mom said by doing this, her son “loves to put his toys on the platform and throw them down the slide as well as climb up and down the slide.”
Check out additional ideas for indoor fun at The Stir, a cafemom blog.
*Step2 recommends adult supervision with the use of these toys.
*Disclaimer: The Step2 Company LLC does not promote or condone the use of our products in ways other than the original intent. This blog was solely written for the purpose to encourage creativity during the winter months. Please refer to the instruction sheets for all Step2 products for the appropriate age, weight, and height limitations.