Now that summer is here, and school is on break for the next couple of months, it’s time you and the kids get outside! Whether you have one child, more than one, or want to plan activities that include neighbors or friends, there are plenty of great ways to get everyone out of the house and into the sunshine.
With some planning and forethought, any purchased supplies or gear can provide fun for the entire summer and even years to come.
Growing up, we likely heard, “go play outside, it’s good for you” repeatedly. The truth is, it is good to get outside. It has been proven that outdoor play has many benefits for you and your children, regardless of age or physical ability. Playing outside can be healthy and stimulating for children of all ages and even adults.
Outdoor activities significantly increase physical movement, including running, jumping, climbing, and balancing. Encourages a relationship with the environment and nature. It also helps to develop observational and reasoning skills, which are helpful when kids are back in the classroom.
Thirty years ago, children spent hours of their day outside playing. Today, kids spend between four and seven minutes a day outdoors! Instead, they average over seven hours a day with electronics such as playing on tablets, laptops, phones and watching television. This drastic increase in screen time has resulted in a significant rise in childhood obesity rates.
One study of preschool children shows a direct correlation between body mass index (BMI) and the amount of time the children are active outdoors. The longer they are allowed to play outside, the lower their BMI.
Because of this, it is recommended children get a minimum of sixty minutes of aerobic exercise daily. Outdoor physical activity is a fantastic way to hit this exercise goal. They’re burning more calories and reducing time spent on screens or technology.
Playing outdoors also encourages motor skill development. Motor skills are things we do or movements we make without even thinking about them. Our bodies do them naturally, like running, jumping, going up stairs, etc., which are considered “gross” motor skills that use the large muscles in our arms, legs, and torso.
Outside activities target various motor skills for development and help improve balance, agility, and hand-eye coordination.
Summer backyard activities also are an excellent opportunity for social interaction between your child(ren) and others. Bringing groups of kids together helps them learn about sharing, following rules, exhibiting self-control, encouraging others, and working in pairs or as a team.
It is even more important for children without siblings or those whose siblings are older and out of the house already, to play outside and develop these social skills.
Other health benefits exist beyond being physically active and helping reduce obesity rates.
Research also shows that children who play outdoors fosters a physical relationship with nature and the environment, encouraging them to spend even more time outside as they age. One study found that 87% of people who spent time outside when younger have carried a love of nature into their adult lives. Of those people, 84% consider the environment a priority.
The reason for this is simple. When kids spend time outside, they have firsthand knowledge and experience with plants and animals and so love the environment.
When it comes to getting your kids outside, don’t feel like you need to go overboard and stress yourself planning and carrying out complicated or outlandish activities. Simple backyard activities are all a child sometimes needs, something to make them active and set their imaginations running.
Truthfully, the activities don’t even need to be structured. Unstructured or unplanned outside time encourages kids to entertain themselves and be creative. Children are natural explorers and like to discover new things. They may complain about being bored initially, but they’ll find something to do soon enough.
If you’re looking for creative activities for your kids to do in your backyard, here are ten fun things to try.
Set up a picnic in your yard to spend some time as a family, bonding. The kids can help plan a menu and prepare the food. They’ll learn about meal planning and the basics of cooking. Plus, food prepared at home tends to be healthier and cheaper than eating out.
This game is a favorite at summer camps and of classic backyard activities. It offers players fun and fitness as they divide into teams and split the area into territories. Each team then tries to “capture” the flag of the other. If players are captured in the opposing team’s territory, they must perform a task before being released back to their own space.
The game is won when a team successfully captures the other team’s flag and returns it to their territory.
Everyone of all ages, from little kids to adults, likes bubbles. You can make your own bubble solution or buy some from the store. Build giant bubble wands to see who can make the largest bubble, or fill your yard with bubbles from a bubble machine or cute little bubble mower for your toddler.
Building a fort or even a mini-castle is an excellent way for kids to learn about fundamental physics; how to build structures sturdy enough to stand up. Children can get creative and use chairs, blankets or logs to create a fort, or you can use boxes and stack them to look like a miniature castle.
Growing plants is a great way to teach your kids about science and nature while spending time together. It’s easy to put together a project to fit your needs and budget. You can plant a small garden or simply plant sunflowers or tomatoes in a container on your patio or deck.
Children enjoy a biology lesson, and when they help grow their own veggies, they are more likely to try new foods and recipes.
Painting is a good way to improve fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. You can also use it as an opportunity to teach kids about color theory. Let them paint a picture or decorate a small bench, chair, or garden statue.
For younger children, you can always “paint” with water or use chalk on the sidewalk or patio to keep the mess to a minimum.
There isn’t a need to go out and buy a ton of new supplies to use outside. You can easily use things from around that house that are no longer needed. You can move plastic containers to a sandbox or water table, old clothing or jewelry can be used in a dress-up area of a treehouse, and metal coat hangers can be used to make bubble wands.
Repurposing items teaches kids to find creative uses for things instead of automatically throwing them away and teaches the fundamentals of recycling.
If you’ve got the space and supplies, building a treehouse is an excellent way to get your kids in the backyard. Not only can they be involved in the actual construction, but having a dedicated area outside just for them will encourage them to get out more often.
With appropriate safety measures in place, jumping on a trampoline helps improve cardiac health, increases endurance and balance, improves agility, and can strengthen bone density through jumping. It also helps burn off or expend energy they may otherwise direct towards indoor activities.
If you live somewhere where the daytime temperatures creep up during the summer, you certainly need to add water fun to your outdoor activities. You can set up a small pool to play in, build a sprinkler with an empty two-liter soda bottle, play with water balloons, and create a backyard splash pad with a tarp and some pool noodles.
However you decide to let your kids outside this summer, you want to ensure the lawn is free of pests to ensure their health and safety. Mosquitos, fleas, ticks, other insects, and rodents can easily disrupt playtime and put your child at risk.
Ryan Lawn & Tree offers a range of lawn care and pest services that can keep your yard safe and ready at all times for playtime! We would love to help you. Get a Free Estimate today for help with your lawn pest control needs by a RYAN lawn care expert!