Kids stay indoors more than ever these days. Yet, we know that nature, exercise, social interactions, and play are essential to their health and well-being. Here are some fun, safe, creative summer activity ideas to get them away from in front of the screen and outside to enjoy the sunshine.
Some fortunate parents have kids who are self-motivated to go outside on their own to explore, play, or practice a sport they love. Most need at least some gentle prodding. That pushback may lead you to think your child doesn’t like the outdoors or that it isn’t worth the effort. The good news is that once outside, almost all kids will dig into their creativity and innate desire to play and find fun wherever they are. There are things you can do to set up their outside time for success and possibly even gain some more enthusiasm.
School-age kids are social beings. The older they get, the more they will prefer being with friends over family time. If there are many kids in your neighborhood, then outside play together may happen naturally. When friends don’t live close by, you’ll probably need to arrange get-togethers.
Playdates. Planning playdates is one of the best ways to get your kids together with their peers. Set the expectation up front that at least a portion of the time together will be outside. Supervise without any specific instruction other than safety guidelines and see what creative fun they come up with on their own.
For planned activity ideas, try:
- A walk around the neighborhood.
- A scavenger hunt.
- Bringing indoor toys like cars, dolls, or building blocks outside.
- Bubbles, chalk, or water play.
Neighborhood Recess. Up for planning a bigger event? Invite classmates, neighborhood families, your parents group, or friends to a playground or field for games. There are endless fun activities available when you have a larger group, including:
- Traditional or new versions of Tag.
- Kickball and other ball games.
- Parachute activities.
- Relay races.
Playgrounds & Parks
Playgrounds are designed to engage kids in outdoor fun. Search for ones nearby with age-appropriate activities. Make a day trip to go to a new one further away. With some snacks on hand, playgrounds can offer up hours of entertainment.
For older kids, look for parks with activities they enjoy, such as soccer or baseball fields, basketball courts, or skate parks.
Pools and Water
Nothing is better than cooling off at a pool, beach, lake, or river on a hot summer day. Whether man-made or natural, water makes for a refreshing and fun outdoor activity. There are so many activities to do, including swimming, building sandcastles, boating, and fishing.
Family Goals or Competition
Setting a family goal or signing up for an outdoor competition can encourage a reluctant child. Here are some ideas to explore:
- 1,000 Hours Outside challenges families to match the yearly amount of time outdoors as typical kids spends on their screens.
- For the 365 Mile Challenge, participants commit to 365 self-propelled miles in a year. Walking, running, hiking, skiing, and biking all count!
- The Nike Playlist has videos from various professional athletes and trainers promoting having fun with exercise.
- Families can also sign up for local 5K or 10K races, triathlons, obstacle courses, etc.
Often, the best way to get kids off their screens is to remove the option. Family camping, biking, paddling, or hiking trips are fun ways to get kids out into nature. While adventuring with kids does take some extra planning and gear, finding activities that everyone enjoys doing together as a family is worth the effort!
Your Favorite Activities
Don’t forget that the best activities to share with your kids may be the ones you love the most. Love to golf, garden, or hoola hoop? Start with the basics, be patient and encouraging; in time, your kids may grow to love these activities as much as you do!
Just like getting kids to eat their vegetables takes trying many varieties and lots of persistence, finding outdoor activities your kids enjoy may take some work. Don’t let any initial lack of enthusiasm stop you from planning a summer full of outdoor fun. Your kids are likely to surprise you and themselves with how much fun they have!