In today’s world its so easy to miss your children growing up. They have computers and mobiles to keep them busy, not to mention their toys. It’s important to spend as much time with your kids as possible while they’re still young, and create those memories that will last a lifetime. Spending time outdoors with your kids is not only fun for them and you but it also plays a crucial role in their development. We’ve put our heads together with experts in the field to come up with a list of 20 fun outdoor activities all the family can do.
Let’s start with the expert’s picks:
1. Camp in the garden
Jodi Valenta, founder of Kids Discover Nature, suggests camping in the garden:
Why go to all the trouble of packing up and leaving home when you can have your own camping fun right in the back garden? No petrol to buy, no money to pay, no hours to drive – just grab your stuff and make your very own camp site!
The key to a successful and fun garden camping session with kids is to make sure they are comfortable, safe and have things to do to keep them busy. To be sure everyone has an enjoyable experience, I developed the following checklist:
- Sleeping bag
- Air mattress
- Camp chairs
- Table or blanket for eating and game playing outside
- Clothing – several layers
- Games, books, playing cards, crayons, paper
- Items for nature exploration (magnifying glass, binoculars etc.)
- Musical instruments and song books
Check out House of Fraser’s range of outdoor toys and tents to make camping fun!
2. Be Creative
Monica de Beer suggests being creative:
As summer draws near, kids and parents become very excited! Keeping the kids entertained within the walls of your house can be a daunting task, especially if the weather keeps us in a confined space for days on end… Crafts have a developmental and educational value in having creative fun, too!
It’s a well known fact that children learn through play and experience; having fun is a key element in the development of a happy and confident child.
Here is an idea for creative fun, which families can enjoy outdoors…
Painted rock pals
- Collect some different sized rocks.
- Let the kids paint them in different colours and make themselves rock monsters.
- Stick on some googly eyes if you have some!
3. Join in with the local community
Meghan Fenn, American expat, published author and founder of Bringing Up Brits suggests joining in with the local community:
Now that I am raising my own children and live in a different country to the one I grew up in, I am constantly looking for outdoor activities to enjoy with my children. We live near the beach which is wonderful, and we sometimes go on spur of the moment trips for just for half an hour in order to get out of the house, run around and get some fresh air. For me, it clears my head and gives me breathing space away from the house and work. For my children, it’s healthy, gets them away from TV and video games and although they may initially complain about going out, once they’re out, they love it. The weather is often a challenge here in Britain, so we have to take advantage of the good weather days and get out as much as we can.
Outdoor activities don’t need to be elaborate or expensive, it can simply be a trip to the playground or even a walk around your local area. If you’re new to the area, explore your new environment, try out all the local playgrounds, and find out if there are any festivals or nearby village fairs. Children love taking part in community activities, as it helps develop their social skills at the same time as nurturing their sense of self by being a part of something worthwhile. Being active outdoors together is what creates strong memories. I often ask myself what will my children remember about their childhood and how will those memories help them become healthy, well rounded, caring, intelligent adults? Outdoor activities and spending time together playing outside is an important part of my children’s development, their learning and discovery, and their happiness within our family unit.
4. Play in the mud
Jan White, an independent consultant to advocate high quality outdoor provisions and founder of Jan White Natural Play suggests playing in the mud:
As a child, I experimented and played with mud. I painted with it, dug in it, made mud pies and loved the feel of it in my hands. This fascination led me to study a degree in Soil Science and a lifelong love of the stuff of the earth.
Mud kitchens provide something quite different to a soil digging patch. A mud kitchen includes elements of the much-loved domestic corner and cooking from indoor play, which are then hugely enriched through the special nature of being outside. Mud kitchens work well all year round and do not need to be fancy and certainly do not need to cost much. Nothing beats the simplicity and character of creating your own unique kitchen from discovered items… and remember, the best mud kitchens are made in collaboration with the children who will be using them.
5. Go For a Nature Walk
Katherine Lockett has a background in special education, early years childcare and is the founder of Creative Playhouse; she suggests going for a nature walk:
Playing outside is so vitally important for young children; not only for their early learning and skill development but for their emotional and physical well-being. Being outside for a large proportion of the day promotes better sleep, better moods and therefore a better capacity to learn and take in the world around them.
Simply walking with your children is a great way to be outside; you can go on a scavenger hunt with older children, or just walk and talk about what you see with younger children. It is a great way to connect with your child, take in nature and get some exercise.
We’ve come up with a few more fun, free ideas to spend some quality time with your children, which will leave you reminiscing about your childhood (and the kids won’t even realise they’re learning!)…
6. Have a picnic
7. Feed the ducks
8. Have a three legged race: Nothing could be simpler or more fun than tying your legs together and racing around the garden!
9. Make a rope swing
10. Build a fort
11. Play hop scotch: Chances are your kids might not even know what this is! Let them use some chalk to draw the hop scotch grid on the driveway and show them how it’s done.
12. Climb a tree
13. Build an assault course: Why not turn your garden into your own personal assault course? Use garden furniture, trees and toys to create an obstacle course that will have your kids playing for hours.
14. Fly a kite
15. Go for a bike ride
16. Have a water fight
17. Go berry picking: Show your kids where their food comes from and take them to pick berries. They’ll enjoy doing something different while tasting the fresh fruits.
18. Play hide & seek
19. Make musical instruments: Use things you find in the garden to make instruments. Try making chimes with sticks and string or maracas with stones and empty bottles.
20. Build a tree house
Most importantly, just have fun with the kids and make the most of their younger years!