During the winter months, like some of our animal counterparts, we humans go into hibernation. Colder weather outside means more time spent inside. When you have a large family with lots of young children running around, even a large house can start to feel small. Whether it is resolving sibling arguments or organising mealtimes, it can feel crowded. When the clouds depart and the sun returns, it is time to get those kids playing outside! If you have a yard or access to a park or field, the summer months are to be taken advantage of.
Imagine it’s a lovely day, the children are raring to go, but what should you do? Check out this list of 8 things to do outdoors, and see what best suits your family!
Make a den
Children love adventure and have vivid imaginations, which is an asset when thinking up ways to play. They also like to explore and experience exciting new places. This makes building a den the perfect thing to do when you are outside with a gang of restless children! First, choose a location. Do you have a tree in your yard? Perhaps a fence? Perfect! Now if you have some materials, you can set your posse off on a building extravaganza. Any old sheets you have are a great way to put a roof on a den. Maybe you have some wood or cardboard lying around; this can create something a little more sturdy.
Children love to run around, and at times, it can seem like they are bouncing off the walls. Why not consider getting something they can bounce off that is a bit less unforgiving. A trampoline! You can get almost anything online for a lot less than it may traditionally have cost. You could pick up the best trampoline for your garden at a fraction of the price it would have cost you pre-internet. This fun and energetic piece of apparatus will keep your children entertained for hours on end, and keep them fit at the same time.
Although you may just see your yard as the place where you hang laundry, your kids see it as a world they can navigate. In that world are many fantastic tiny creatures and intriguing plants and flowers for them to learn about. The children in your family would love to get down and dirty in the mud, looking for insects and other critters. A good idea would be to set them challenge such as a checklist of creatures for them to find and cross off their list. It could be a list of animals that have wings, or ones that have more than six legs; the possibilities are endless.
Bat and ball
There are lots and lots of variations on playing with the good old bat and ball. You could mark out a court with some old rope, set up a net with sticks and washing line, and there you have it, your own tennis court! You can hold a mini tournament, complete with orange squash refreshments. Another great bat and ball game is swingball. It only requires one or two people to play it and can be a safe, but exciting way to have some fun. As a little bonus, this is an excellent way to improve reflexes and hand-eye coordination. Swingball has been around for a long time, for a good reason.
Soccer is a lively, engaging sport that welcomes all levels of ability. Unlike baseball or football, any child can run and chase the ball and get fully involved in the game. You don’t need any equipment other than a soccer ball and a wall. You could use chalk to draw the outline of a goal, and your are ready. The children can play games taking penalty kicks against each other. They can run all around trying to score a goal and taking turns to be the goalkeeper. It is a friendly game that will burn off a lot of energy and get them playing together in a group.
Any activity can be made infinitely more worthwhile for kids if they know there is a treat at the end of it. It goes without saying that all children enjoy a treasure hunt, and as a parent, the planning and set-up can be just as much fun. First draw up some treasure maps, and be colourful and creative. Think of important clues and unique places that will keep them guessing all afternoon. This will not take long to put in place, and you will be just as thrilled watching them figure it out, as they are solving the riddles.
Hide and Seek
If you can get to an outdoor area such as a park or playing field, hide and seek is a classic kid’s game. It will have them running around but being quiet at the same time, crazy right? Be sure to keep an eye on the children when they hide and tell them not to leave your line of sight. Then whoever is ‘it’ has to attempt to locate the others. This can take some time, especially if you have a child who is good at hiding! You will know that a lot of youngsters are great at hiding, none more so than when it is time to tidy their bedroom.
If you consider yourself to be green-fingered, why not rope the kids in to help out? You can set them each an individual area to take charge of. They can be pulling up weeds, and collecting trash from the flowerbeds. Then they can dig the soil to make way for seeds, plants or even vegetables if you have a veg patch. This ties in with discovering nature as they will encounter all kinds of cool little bugs and insects, some of which they have never seen before. Then at the end of the day, you will have a much tidier, nice looking garden!
Plan ahead and get the most from your yard when the kids have their summer break. They will be happy, and healthy too!