What happened to “Go Play Outside”?

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Go play outside.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?


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Allison Waken is a wife, mom of boys and Phoenix, AZ native. She has been creating inspiring content for All for the Boys since 2011. Allison loves travel, movies and spending as much time as possible with her family while she can!


  1. I liked to explore all around town when I was a child – something you can’t really let kids do now. Of course, we didn’t have 24 hour children’s television programing, movies on demand, instantly downloadable books, or a shelf full of video games either. If we had, I might never have gone outside at all 🙂

    • I felt like I was the only kid my age who didn’t have a Nintendo or (gasp) cable! lol! I didn’t explore around town but we still had a bit more freedom. It’s sad that kids won’t have that as much these days.

  2. I loved playing outside when I was younger… making plays, digging up weird objects in the dirt, making forts, or just running around randomly. I hope that when my son is older he’ll also engage in these activities. It’s interesting, because already at 2 I too can see his attitude towards me after playing in the park vs. gorging on bubble guppies which makes me even more dedicated to outdoor time!

    • Isn’t it crazy how it really does make a difference in their attitudes?

      We always loved when it rained here because we could finally dig in the dirt (the desert ground is super hard) lol!

  3. Riding bikes was my favorite. Or we’d turn the bikes upside down and push the pedals by hand to pretend it was a factory. Nowadays my favorite activity is geocaching with my 5 year old. We can explore familiar or new places, investigate nature, and burn off energy, all under the guise of treasure hunting!

    • Oh yes! Geocaching is so much fun! I love that you used your bike as a factory. That’s exactly the type of stuff we used to do too!

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