Outdoor Activity Ideas for Kids
We are currently living in strange and interesting times. The coronavirus has flip most of our life's upside down. Some of you are working from home, some are still able to go to work and others have been laid off until that all clear is given. As we all try to navigate these new waters, I find there are new challenges. One of those challenges has been having the kids at home 24/7. My kids last day of school was March 13th, so they’ve been home for two solid weeks. When I say home, they’ve been home, we haven’t taken them anywhere in the past two weeks. No softball practices, no 4-H meetings and no trips to the grandparents' house. They have been doing their school work and it has been going as well as can be expected. My wife and I have been fortunate to be able to still go to work, so we’ve been able to get out of the house. But that also brings some other challenges to home schooling and keeping our kids active. I think sometimes we forget that times of un-clarity can be just as difficult to navigate for our kids as it is for us. I think it’s more important than ever to get them outside and active. In my opinion it’s important that they don’t feel cooped up and trapped. So, turn off the electronics, set the school work off to the side for a little while and let’s head out to the backyard with these easy outdoor activities for you and your kids.
· Take a Walk
I want to say that this has been so important to me and family. We like to take walks when we can already, but it seems that lately this has been so good for our family the last few weeks. I will say that we live in a rural part of Wisconsin, so being able to take a two mile walk in the country without seeing or being around others is pretty easy. But the biggest benefit that we get out of it beside the fresh air, is just being able to talk and be a family. My girls get to run and be silly and my wife and I get to enjoy some quiet time in the outdoors. We usually take a 30 to 40-minute walk in the early evening and it helps wind everyone down from what has been some pretty stressful days. We’ve gotten a lot of benefits and enjoyment from our end of day walks. I want to be clear, this isn’t a power walk or walk to get fit, I’m talking about a leisure walk with no expectations other than just to enjoy time together.
· Do a Little Gardening
I know it may seem early to talk about gardening. Honestly, we haven’t reached 60 degrees yet. However, I’ve noticed that our Iris plants are starting to emerge and soon our Hosta plants have as well. If you’re like me, fall came and went and I didn’t have time to clean up all the plant beds before the snow settled in. This is the perfect time to bring your kids outside and teach them how to care for some of those returning plants. Have them help you clean out old beds and prepare for the upcoming growth. Now is also the perfect time to start preparing your strawberry beds and get those ready for the upcoming season. Or make a project and build some raised beds and prep them for the upcoming gardening season. There are some things you can start planting that are a bit harder. I’ve seen some plant lettuce, peas and kale already so now is the perfect time to get and early start on the gardening season.
· Start a Project
Like most, I have a to-do list around the house. One of those things is to do some repairs and improvement on my kids swing set. Why not make it a learning project and have the kids help with some of those outdoor spring projects. It’s a great way to teach them about measuring and tool safety. I always say it’s the things that they might not always get taught in school but it’s things that they can learn and keep with them forever. There’s always that certain pride they’ll feel when they say that they helped with a project. It doesn’t even have to be repairs. Maybe you tie your project into gardening and have them help you build a new raised bed garden. Or build a bird house and find a spot in your yard to put it. We all have plenty of project we’d like to complete and why not accomplish some of those things together.
· Do a Nature Hike
Depending on how much space you have, this can be as elaborate or simple as you want. I realize that most of nature is just waking up from the winter sleep. But there are some things you can do and show your kids that will keep them interested and intrigued. One of the things I enjoy doing with my kids walking around our yard looking at all the new buds appearing on the trees. You can even turn this into a photography project by taking a new picture of the bud every day or once a week and see its progress. Assign each of your children their own tree or shrub and have them observe and document the change as winter turns to spring. Another great thing to try is doing a bird count. Our birds are back and that means you can keep track of how many you see each day. If you have bird feeders, keep track of how many birds they see in an hour and if that changes as the days get warmer. Make a game out of your nature hike and you and your kids will stay entertained longer and maybe even learn something along the way.
· Be a Kid Yourself
Time is a precious thing. Kids grow up fast and as parents we need to enjoy that time. We also need to remember that during this time our kids probably haven’t seen their friends in a week or to. They haven't played with anyone other than their siblings. That makes it a great time for you to be a kid again. Play a little bat and ball, push them on the swings, play frisbee. Anything that you do that will help them burn off some energy and see that you can be a bit of a kid again will help all of you get through this. Make up a game or play an outdoor version of hide and seek. Tag is always fun too. Make recess an important of all your day. Learn to be a kid again.
I try to look for the best in every situation, I think that’s important for all of us to try to do right now. I think this is an opportunity for you to reconnect with your kids. Teach, learn and play with them as you head out to be one of Wisconsin’s Outdoor Explorers.