We must teach our children to smell the earth, to taste the rain, to touch the wind, to see things grow, to hear the sun rise and night fall—to care. ~ John Cleal
If you’re looking for a way to get energy out, foster independence, encourage exercise, limit screen time, calm behaviors, and get stress relief for both kids and parents look no further than outside your window!
We’ve rounded up 11 creative ways to play together in the great outdoors.
1) Make a nature mobile—scavenge for materials like twigs, leaves, cones, and seed pods and let your little sculptors get to work. Tie on your collections to dangle down from a larger stick. Kids can hang them to blow in the breeze outside or bring them in as decoration.
2) Water paint the walls or driveway—who knew a bucket of water could provide a whole afternoon of creativity? Kids will love seeing their artwork come and go as it vanishes before their eyes. Family pictionary, anyone?
3) Have a family picnic—grab a blanket or sheet and take your lunch outside. No need to make a special meal, unless you want to, just the change of scenery makes it special enough!
4) Two words: BUG RACE. Ready, set, go! You might have trouble deciding which part is more fun—collecting the bugs or racing them? Mark some racetracks with string or chalk and place your bets.
5) Go camping in the backyard—maybe you’ll hit up Yosemite next year, but for now head out back and set up an old tent or build a fort for campfire stories, star gazing and maybe even some s’mores—no packing required!
6) Make leaf portraits—craft portraits of yourselves and your best “buds” out of materials found outside. Berries become eyes, twigs become hair, and our kids become scavenging artists looking at the yard with a whole new set of eyes. Follow the hashtag #facethefoliage on Instagram for some fun inspiration.
7) Make natural paint brushes—grab a twig and some string and tie on a new textured paint tip. You could experiment with brush tips made out of clusters of pine needles, small bundles of herbs, and really whatever you find that might make an amusing new pattern.
8) Become Birders—grab some binoculars and get to know your neighborhood birds. Do a quick internet search for birds in your region to familiarize yourselves with the sound of their calls and make this even more of a thrilling hunt.
9) Build a stick or rock maze—will you create a simple mandala or a full-fledged obstacle course? Only time will tell. Add a blindfold to make it a fun family game.
10) Serve up some mud pies—bring out the pie pans, the muffin trays, measuring cups and whisks to make some messy memories. Your creative little chefs will love finding new ingredients outside to fill and decorate their creations.
11) Make your own games—check out our newest magazine issue for some Olympic-inspired outdoor activities.
We hope these ideas can get you and your kids connecting with each other and with nature in new, exciting ways this spring. Wishing you a season full of good, dirty fun!