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We played outside without ideas or prompting most of my childhood. We made up games, played store, superheroes, chef, studied tomato caterpillars and leaves (tacos). Obviously the world is a bit of a different place but if you have a safe place for the kids to go they probably don’t play outside as much as you did.
There are SO many benefits to being outside.
- Outdoor play increases fitness levels and builds active, healthy bodies, an important strategy in helping the one in three American kids who are obese get fit.
- Spending time outside raises levels of Vitamin D, helping protect children from future bone problems, heart disease, diabetes and other health issues.
- Schools with environmental education programs score higher on standardized tests in math, reading, writing and listening.
- Exposure to environment-based education significantly increases student performance on tests of their critical thinking skills.
- Play protects children’s emotional development whereas loss of free time and a hurried lifestyle can contribute to anxiety and depression.
(from National Wildlife Federation)
I try to keep activities like the ones I share here for times when I want to interact one on one with the boys (undivided attention) or times when I wouldn’t be able to hear/check on them outside. I find that the boys’ attitudes to me and each other are directly affected by their time outside (or time on video games/computer in the other direction).
Want to give the kids a few ideas?
- make an obstacle course
- collect objects in as many different colors as you can, create a masterpiece with them
- make a store – decide what you’ll have in your store/what you’ll pay with
- make up a new sport
- create a track/town for cars or other toys
- make a mud pie (or just play in mud)
- draw with sidewalk chalk
- look for bugs
- build a fort
What was your favorite thing to do outside as a kid?