Spring is finally starting to make an appearance, after what felt like a very, VERY long, socially distant winter. This means it’s time to play outside! Playing outside has so many benefits, for kids and adults of all ages, and can offer the perfect activity for whatever level of social distancing your family is currently comfortable with.
Playing outside encourages kids to engage in active, unstructured play – running, climbing, exploring – which is great for physical exercise, as well as increasing executive functioning skills. Executive functioning skills help kids learn to plan, problem-solve, prioritize, and multitask. These types of skills need to be learned, encouraged, and regularly practiced.
Need some outside play inspiration? Try one of these fun outside activities with your kids this month.
Hiking. The Cleveland Metroparks has a ton of outdoor trails for every age and fitness level. Even the youngest kiddos can enjoy a family walk through the woods. Wear rain or snow boots and let your kids splash in the mud and explore rivers and creeks for an immersive sensory experience. (https://www.clevelandmetroparks.com/parks/visit/activities/event-activity-types/hiking-walking)
Walk Your Neighborhood. Getting outside can be as easy as throwing on a pair of shoes and exploring your neighborhood. Try a new route and wave hello to the people you pass. Make it interesting for kids and include a simple scavenger hunt (who can find a black dog/yellow car/blue house/etc.). Want to speed up the pace? Ride bikes instead!
Go to the playground. It may have been a few months (or longer) since you last visited your favorite playground. Playgrounds are great places for kids to practice both gross motor and physical motor skills, such as climbing and running. Slides and swings are great for kiddos who crave vestibular input, as they are an immersive sensory experience (tactile from the actual swing, plus visual from the world moving). Play with your kids by creating a “Follow-the-Leader Obstacle Course”!
Play in your own backyard. Playing outside doesn’t need to be fancy, or involve a huge time commitment. Just open the door and go outside to your own yard. Bring a ball, or teach your kids about growing food and plant a garden. Kids who are involved with growing their own produce may be more likely to eat the fruit and vegetables they cultivate.
Try these ideas and you’ll be thinking up your own fun outdoor play ideas in no time! Have fun!