Inside: Outdoor activities for kids that will help to relieve your family’s tension from being inside.
I don’t know about you, but at our house the tension is building. Not to sound cliche, but this lock down is starting to make my kids climb the walls and me pull my hair out.
Our kids are in dire need of a change of scenery. However, that isn’t going to be possible for a few weeks yet, so we will have to settle for the next best thing and head outside for some fun with nature.
My kids have been going outside pretty regularly while we have been sheltering in place because outside time is written into our daily schedule. However, they need something else to do besides swinging, playing in the sand box and replacing the grass in our yard with the little rocks in the landscaping.
Since our budget is tight right now and we can’t access many supplies, I decided to figure out a way to fix our exhaustion and stress of being cooped up inside by using toys found in nature.
Except for the first two, the activities in this article encourage your children to interact with and experience what nature has to offer.
If weather or lock down policies prevent you from going outside, be creative and modify these ideas to work inside.
Remember to be safe and follow recommendations and protocol from the CDC and your local health department.
I hope you and your children can find the solution needed to release tension with these fun outdoor activities for kids.
My kids love to draw, especially my daughter. Give them some sidewalk chalk and they will be busy for hours. Go outside on your driveway or a sidewalk and work with your kids on writing numbers, letters and shapes. Then invite your children to draw pictures.
Dip the chalk in water to get it wet and draw. Notice the change in color. Have your child draw an umbrella on the sidewalk. Ask one of your children to lay down on the sidewalk and pretend to hold the umbrella for a cute photo.
Think about what other photo props you could draw. Maybe a kite, a race car or a monkey standing on your head!
Don’t have access to pavement? No problem! Use paper instead.
Time to erase
After your children are finished drawing with sidewalk chalk, you can leave their beautiful art until the next rain storm washes it away.
Or, you can have your kids make it rain and erase their creations themselves.
Fill some spray bottles with water. Tell your kids which shape, letter, number or picture to erase. Have them spray the correct drawing with the spray bottle and observe what happens.
A spray hose would also work for this. What a fun way to wash the chalk art away, especially on a hot day.
In the mood for a picnic?
Picnics are one of my favorite outdoor activities for kids. There is something so amazing and novel about eating food in the great outdoors.
Next time your kids want to go on a picnic, suggest they be the chefs and “cook” items for a natural picnic. Tell them they will be making food from items they find in nature.
My kids used the mud kitchen my husband built for them to cook their picnic meal.
You can brainstorm items to include in your picnic menu or you can use the entrees I suggest:
- Sticks and Stones Soup
- Grassy Salad
- Mud Meatballs
- Mud Pies
The first item for your little chefs to make is Sticks and Stone Soup. Have your kids gather sticks, and stones (and other items from nature if they want). Invite your children to put the items in a plastic tub or large bowl. Add water to the tub and let your children stir the soup with a big spoon.
Next up? Grassy Salad. If possible, allow your children to pick a few blades of grass for their salad greens. Garnish with dandelions, leaves, sticks, rocks, pine cones and anything else your kids might find.
Mud Meatballs are the third item on the menu. Use mud or make some by adding water to dirt. Shape the mud into balls to resemble meatballs. Provide your kids an old pan to put the Mud Meatballs in.
Make sure to leave room for dessert because famous Mud Pies will be the last course your chefs will cook for the nature picnic. Provide old pie pans for your kids to put mud in. Then invite them to find rocks, sticks and other items from nature to put in their muddy dessert.
Use a picnic table or spread a blanket on the ground for a table. Put all the “delicious” entrees your kids have made in the middle of the table. Set the table with plates, bowls and eating utensils appropriate for this picnic.
Pass the food around for everyone to sample and enjoy! Make sure to take lots of pictures. This may be the most memorable of these outdoor activities for kids.
We need a walk after eating all that food
Being outside engages all of your senses. Teach your kids about their five senses and then go on a walk to have them observe what each of their five senses discovers.
- Sight-There is so much to see around you as you walk. But there is even more to notice if you look closely. Look for a rock for your kids to uncover. What is hiding underneath? Use a magnifying glass if you have one to examine critters up close.
- Smell-Inhale the outdoor air. What does it smell like? Find a flower for your kids to sniff. How would they describe its scent? Have them compare it to the aroma of dirt. Do you have a garden? Invite your children to sniff the vegetables growing there and describe what they smell like.
- Sound-Listen closely. Ask your children to identify three different sounds. Have your kids to compare the sounds they hear during the day with the sounds they hear at night. How are they the same? How are they different? Discuss why they only hear certain sounds at night.
- Touch-Nature is a smorgasbord of textures. Let your children feel the rocks, sand, dirt, tree trunk, grass, water, plants…. Which ones feel rough? Which things feel smooth? For an added challenge, blindfold them and then hand them objects from nature and see if they can identify what they are by touching them.
- Taste-Is there anything on your nature walk that your children can taste? Maybe some berries you find growing on a bush or some vegetables in your garden. Have your children tell you if the taste of the item is sweet, bitter or sour. Remember to stay away from any wild mushrooms or toadstools. They aren’t always safe to eat.
While we are talking about things to stay away from, don’t forget to steer clear of any poison ivy. You don’t want your little ones to come in contact with that plant while you are on your nature walk.
If you jump in muddy puddles…
If you have young kids, you most likely are acquainted with Peppa Pig. My son was enamored by that show when he was little. That is why he had a George Pig themed birthday party when he turned two.
Peppa Pig loves jumping in muddy puddles. Her mommy always says, “If you jump in muddy puddles, you must wear your boots.”
Living in the country, I know why Mommy Pig was so adamant about Peppa wearing her rain boots. I have had to clean more than my share of muddy shoes. As a result, both kids now have a pair of rain boots that they usually wear when they go outside.
The next time it rains, have your children put on their rain boots and head outside to jump in the puddles. Yes, it will mean a messy load of laundry, but your children will experience something they will never forget.
Better yet, put on your rain boots and jump in the puddles with them, just like Mommy and Daddy Pig.
A natural kind of race
Your children have been cooped up in the house for days and really need to expend some energy. The last of the outdoor activities for kids I will suggest is to have a race outdoors.
Give a medium-sized box or container to each child and have your children run around the yard finding items such as sticks, rocks, leaves, acorns and pine cones to put in their box.
To make it more challenging, tell each child that they have to find 10 completely different items to put in their box.
Once all your kids have their items, have them line up their boxes next to each other. Put another set of boxes in a row about 20 feet or so from the first row of boxes. Have each child stand behind the box that contains the items he gathered.
When you say go, each child must pick up one item, quickly run to the other box 20 feet away from them and dump the object in it. Then they are to run back to the first box and repeat the process.
Make it more challenging for older children by having them hop, skip, run backward or crawl instead of run.
If the weather does not permit you to go outside and your kids desperately need to burn some energy, you can modify this game to do indoors.
Find objects to transfer from one room to the next. You will probably want to stick to walking quickly instead of running if you are inside. It would be horrible if someone broke the lamp you got from your grandmother.
Messy, but easy to clean up
After experiencing these outdoor activities for kids, you will find that nature’s toys can be messier than the toys inside your house, but they are easier to put away.
You can pretty much dump them anywhere outside and they won’t look out of place.
Get out the water hose and have your children help you clean the mud off of pots, pans and sludge filled boots.
If your kids are like mine, they are no longer tired of being inside. Instead, they are exhausted from all the energy they used to complete these activities.
And if you are like me, you are a little stressed out about the mud, but not near as much as you would be pulling kids off walls and investing in a wig.