Get Outside: Family Friendly Outdoor Activities
After spending winter cuddled up with the kids by the fireplace, the spring thaw probably has you all itching to get out and explore. If that itch also gives you a twinge of anxiety, know that you’re not alone. Plenty of parents feel a bit anxious about getting outside with their kids. The good news is that kids are more easily entertained that you might expect, and doing something memorable and fun doesn’t have to be a major ordeal. Here’s a look at our six favorite simple, fun, and memorable outdoor activities for this spring.
1. Take a Walk
Sometimes it really is that simple. Aim for a stroll at dusk. When the sun sets around the objects on your street and around your neighborhood, they will throw interesting shadows onto the pavement. Invite your child to be quiet, no words allowed on this stroll, but to dance around the shadows and imagine what they could be. Much like finding animals in clouds, this adventure is as large as your child’s imagination. When you get home, engage your child in a bedtime story, allowing him/her to tell you the story they composed in their own mind as you walked.
2. Micro Communities
There is an entire world just beneath our toes. With your child, lay down on your stomach in the yard. Be still, and look closely. Chances are you’ll notice small insects like ants or pill bugs living a life in a tiny way. Makeup stories about who they are and what they’re doing. Engaging imagination while teaching respect for nature can be a lasting lesson for your children.
Have you tried geocaching yet? If not, get on it. Like right now. A geocache is a box (they range from pillbox sized to suitcase-sized) hidden in nature. They are all over your community and chances are you walk by a handful of them every single day. When you download the phone app and join the community, you’ll be given access to GPS coordinates that act as a real live treasure map to where these things are hidden. Then, using your phone’s GPS, your kids help you track these modern day hidden treasures. The hunt is half the fun, and since they’re almost always hidden in cool places, you’re sure to see something unique as part of your quest.
4. Nature Walk
Grab a quart sized zip-lock bag and hit the neighborhood. Encourage your child to place items in the bag that call to them. It will be fun for you to see what these items are. Is your child into leaves? Rocks? Moss? It is truly amazing how much you can find in just a block or two. When you get home, pending on the items collected, engage in pressing the items or doing a nature rub. Do this by removing the paper from a crayon, and then placing the nature item under a thin sheet of unlined paper. Using the side of the crayon, press gently and rub back and forth to create a transfer image of the leaf or twig underneath. If the items aren’t press or rub ready, use glue to create an animal out of the items.
5. Forget Bed Time
If the kids are up late anyway, treat them to the best gift a parent can give, a reprieve from bedtime. Take them on a stroll beneath a full moon on a starry night. Or, better yet, look up the next meteor shower visible in your location, and plan a whole late night around it. It’s probably best to get out of the city for this one, as city lights can ruin the stargazing experience. If you’re uncomfortable being out at night alone, seek out a group hike in local community groups.
6. Rock Painting
Fill a sand bucket with water (but not too full, your child needs to be able to easily carry it) and drop an artist’s paintbrush in it. Head out on a hike around town, where you will encourage your child to “paint” rocks. We’re talking large rocks though, not playground rocks. The water will turn the rock colors, which thrills kids, and once it dries, the art disappears, which means the police won’t get angry about the graffiti.