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10 outdoor play ideas

Published in Pediatrics Author: Andrew Maloney,MD Author: Andrew Maloney, MD

After winter, all of us — especially children — are eager to be outdoors as much as possible. Muddy yards and cool breezes don’t need to keep children from getting fresh air. Consider these ideas for making the most of outdoor play for your family. And always remember the sunscreen!

  1. Nature collections. Take a hike or walk together and bring along a large plastic bag. Ask your child to fill it with items they find interesting. A few weeks later go again and fill another bag. Compare and contrast the items in the bags and talk about the changing season.
  2. Flower and leaf artwork. Use leaves and flowers that you gather outside in play dough or clay creations, or dip them in paint and make prints. Put together an arrangement and display it in a vase.
  3. Sidewalk and driveway art and games. A box of chalk and some imagination can lead to all sorts of fun and artwork. Sidewalk chalk games are easy and inexpensive and a great way to get kids moving.
  4. Puddle jumping. It is no secret that children are drawn to puddles. Rather than nagging and dragging them away, put them in old clothes and rain boots and let them delight in splashing and jumping to their hearts’ content. You might find yourself joining in the fun.
  5. Kite flying. Nothing says spring like the image of a child gleefully and excitedly running behind a kite. Remember to keep the line short for younger children and gradually let it up for older children. Don’t be afraid to let the activity release your own inner child.
  6. Prepare your garden and pots for planting. Let your child dig and play in the dirt. Supplying safe tools or a child gardening set can allow them to work side by side with you. Give them a few pots of their own and allow them to choose a plant or flower to grow.
  7. Find bugs and other creatures. As the earth softens and nature awakens, help your children notice the insects, birds, frogs and other animals.
  8. Bubbles. There is something about the iridescent globes that fascinates children of all ages. Consider different wands that create unique shapes or oversize bubbles to add variety to this activity.
  9. Wind play. Bring out light scarfs and long ribbons and allow the wind to dance the items through the air. It won’t be long and the children will be dancing and running along with their ribbon.
  10. Classic yard games. Kick ball, tag, a game of catch and kick the can still engage children of all ages and may get the adults moving too.