10 Outdoor Activities at Your Doorstep
Kids need to get their wiggles out. When your kiddos are at home, here are some ways from 15 Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect with Your Kids to nurture your need for peace and their need for play with some fresh air:
1. Look for where bugs and animals may live. In the Northern Hemisphere, the leaves are still off the trees, which makes it easier to spot nests and holes in trees. As the main character PJ of my children's early reader series PJ's Backyard Adventures says, "Look up, look down, look all around." Look more closely at what you might otherwise pass and not notice.
2. Take a nature walk (or scooter or bike), around the block. This is still one of my favorites, and with springtime happening all around, there is so much to see from the buds on the trees to the floral smells in the air. A daily walk will help you be more present to the gradual changes that take place each day.
3. Create art with what is around you. Sidewalk chalk is fabulous if you have it, but you don't have to spend any money by creating art from what is at your fingertips outside. Your children are the best at letting their imaginations be their guide. Sticks become train tracks, leaves lined up become trains. You can even create letters or spell your name with the same materials or blades of grass or rocks.
4. See how many games you can make up. Keep tally of the number of games for as long as the kids are home! If the kids need to let off some steam, they can race down the sidewalk and back. My kids loved to make up games with all the different types of balls in the garage. Grab a bucket and play a tossing game. Before long they'll be engaged for some unstructured playtime and you can sit down...
5. Put a blanket down and watch the clouds race. Or look for shapes or make up stories about the clouds and what they are doing.
6. Make a bagel bird feeder. Tie string around the bagel first (avoids a mess later). Use shortening or nut butter and dip in bird seed or finely chop up some apple, raisins, sunflower seeds and corn meal. Don't have a bagel? Use a pinecone.
7. Shadow dance. On a day when you can see your shadows, start making funny moves and watch your shadows dance. This can be very fun and funny. The more shadows dancing, the more fun and funnier it gets!
8. Watch a pea seed sprout. If you can get a packet online, March is a great time to watch a pea seed sprout. You can do it outside in soil or use a clear cup on a windowsill with wet newspaper. It's exciting for kids and adults!. The seed will sprout in 1-3 days, and if your experiment lasts long enough, peas harvest in about six to eight weeks!
9. Quiz me outside. Whatever learning you are looking to reinforce based on the age of your child, take it outside. Find one, two, three! of something, look for things that start with different letters of the alphabet, or quiz each other in spelling or math as you play. You will soon forget that you are doing work and help make learning effortless fun.
10. Take snack time outside. You have snack time every day, why not take it outside? We all looked forward to sitting on the steps, looking out at whatever is happening in nature, and enjoying our snack and some fresh air.
Rebecca P. Cohen is a social entrepreneur and author of the parenting book Fifteen Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect with Your Kids and children's book, PJ's Backyard Adventures. Rebecca is also founder of ShareMyJourney.org, the curated peer hub that connects you with experience from caring members during challenging life circumstances. Rebecca has worked with over 6,000 children around the world in making outdoor connections for a healthier life. Her work has appeared in USA Today, Better Home and Gardens, Parenting, Redbook, Working Mother, Family Circle, and Backyard Solutions.