How to Approach Outdoor Activities with a Creative Twist
Jun 17, 2016
Sometimes children grow bored with the same old outdoor activities and instead turn to video games and TV to stay entertained. This spring, inspire your child’s creativity with a fresh, new take on outdoor activities. With the convenient appeal of videogames and television inundating our society, it’s no surprise that kids are spending more time inside and less time developing important social skills they can get only from play. Give your children an exciting new reason to get back outside with these creative outdoor games.
Benefits of Playing Outside
Playing outdoors has limitless developmental benefits for children. It can develop a child’s language and communication skills, social behavior, emotional palette, and cognitive skills. Adapt an active role in helping your child grow and create exciting family memories. Take a look at how each of these skills is essential to the development of your child:
Language and Communication
Creative activities with others force children to communicate. This amplifies language building skills, encourages communication, and refines self expression. These skills will eventually benefit your child in countless ways. Effective communication serves as an essential skill in school, work, and many other social settings. Communication skills are the cornerstone of success, as well as a number of life experiences, challenges, and milestones.
Playing outdoors gives children the chance to explore and experiment with non-traditional perspectives, including understanding differences in opinion and developing conflict-resolution skills. Conflict resolution skills will be central to your child’s future and to these creative outdoor games.
Kids encounter conflict at all stages of their lives, from elementary school to high school through college and onto their professional lives. Since conflict is inevitable, the key is being able to access conflict resolution skills in early childhood. To encourage growth, start with social outdoor games and continuously encourage and edify to help develop a well adjusted child who is able to adapt and deal with challenging social situations.
Outdoor play, especially with other children, creates independent expression of feelings and thoughts. It gives children a healthy outlet for their emotions and empowers their social communication. Through outdoor play, kids learn to express themselves and work through their feelings. Outdoor and inventive play will ensure that your children attain the experience they need to express themselves properly and appropriately.
Creative outdoor games hone in on a very important skill: problem solving. Problem solving, imagination, and critical thinking allow children to explore different options and new solutions to puzzling obstacles and complications. When a child is given a challenge during an outdoor game, they must exercise their minds to find a solution. Kids will be motivated to utilize their cognition if the activity is fun—and they’ll unknowingly learn an important life skill!
Engaging Outdoor Activities
Now that you know about the amazing benefits of outside play, here are some suggestions for outdoor activities with a creative twist!
Outdoor Sandbox Treasure Hunt
Hide mounds of gems, chocolate coins, and crystals inside a sandbox or around your yard. Using a treasure map, lead your children on a journey. Hand them a miniature shovel and let them explore! Help their imaginations run wild by pretending to be pirates or treasure hunters.
Create Your Own Bird Feeder
Spend quality time bonding with your kids by gathering unique materials from your yard and around your home. Branches, stones, feathers, snail shells, and other outdoor artifacts that your children think are beautiful will help create a unique bird feeder! Do you live near the ocean? Grab some seashells! Are you near a forest? Try to find some beautiful leaves or flowers. Does a stream trickle through your neighborhood? Collect some riverbed pebbles.
Decorate your custom bird feeder with the collected materials. You can make a thatched roof with some grass or create a tropics-inspired house with sea shells. Firmly attach everything you’ve collected using non-toxic glue and remember to fill the feeder with seeds. You can hang your custom bird feeder in a nearby tree and watch as beautiful birds and squirrels stop by for a visit. Keep a journal and record all of the wonderful species that stop by for a snack.
Head out after dark (bring flashlights, glow sticks, blankets, snacks, and hot cocoa) for a special night-time stargazing event. Lay out on a big blanket and search for constellations! Bring a reference book and let your kids compare the pictures to the stars they see above them. You can even encourage a moon journal—a composition notebook with drawings of the different phases of the moon—or illustrate and label the constellations you find.
Fruit Kebab Picnics
Instead of a typical sandwich picnic, try a fruit kebab picnic. Pierce honeydew melon balls, watermelon cubes, and cantaloupe bits onto a skewer. You can also add chunks of chocolate, gummies, blueberries, and strawberries. Consider rolling the fruit in coconut flakes, grated chocolate, nuts, or honey before placing them on the skewer. Chilling the kebabs overnight makes for refreshing treats on hot summer days.
For even healthier options, use dark chocolate, toast grated coconut, or try rolling the fruit in chia or flax seeds. Just be sure to watch out for nut allergies if you plan on sharing.
Geocache Scavenger Hunt
This is one of our favorite creative outdoor games! Using a GPS device or smartphone, go on a nature hike with your kids. Find small items (caches) cleverly hidden away from sight. Leave your own little treat in the cache and be sure to write your name in the included logbook. Check out geocache.com online and join the world’s largest scavenger hunt. Caches can be hidden in the city, in the country, in forests, and all over the world in local destinations as well as national parks. Caches are everywhere and each cache offers a completely unique experience. This is an outdoor activity that you can do with your kids any time, wherever in the world you may be.
Plan and participate in your very own Water Olympics. Compete in sponge tosses, sprinkler dance contests, water-gun target practice, or invent a custom event. Water balloon basketball and obstacle courses are great places to start. You can even create your own gold, silver, and bronze medals using foil or yogurt top lids for the awards ceremony! This is a fantastic activity because it allows your kids to get creative, competitive, and social. Invite the whole neighborhood over and make some unforgettable summer memories.
Super Spinner Tire Swing
The Super Spinner tire swing is a favorite among both parents and kids. It is a great tire swing alternative that allows kids to swing and spin simultaneously! Firmly attach the Super Spinner tire swing to a large tree branch or an existing swing set and let your kids swing and spin in all directions! This swing is perfect for children as young as three years and can hold up to 200 pounds, allowing for multiple riders. Have kids lie on their stomachs while swinging in circles or throw wiffleballs and see how many times they can catch them. The options for creative outdoor games are limitless with Super Spinner!
Rainbow tag is a game that combines capture the flag with hide and seek. Hide five popsicle sticks around the yard, each a different color. Every time a player finds a colored stick, use the corresponding color to draw a line across both of their cheeks. One player—”Pinkie”—lurks around, locating the other players. If the players are caught by “Pinkie,” they must erase one line of color from their cheeks. The first player to have all five colors wins!
Kids stand inside a hula hoop circle with a set number of color coded beanbags. They must defend their hoop from opponents tossing beanbags into their circle, while strategically trying to get their beanbags into the others’ hula hoops. Everyone must stay in their zone!
Colorful Leaf Collage
Collect the biggest and most unique fallen leaves from the backyard. Try to avoid leaves that are too dry and brittle. Cover your leaves with a sheet of plain white paper and use the dull side of a crayon to gently shade over the leaf, imprinting it onto the paper. Create colorful leaf collages and hang them all over the house.
Be Creative With Your Children
Adding a new twist to traditional games and activities can bring fresh life into your child’s imagination and will also remind them how fun it can be to play outdoors. Try to have multiple creative activities throughout your weekend routine and incorporate family and friends into the mix for more social activities. Don’t forget to use your imagination and turn any ordinary household item into something extraordinary!
Do you have lots of ideas? Start a blog and share with other parents in your neighborhood. Creative outdoor activities truly have unlimited benefits for you and your children. Not only will your kids develop their language, social, emotional, and cognitive skills, you will have a blast spending time together as a family. Help your kids thrive and flourish while having a fantastic time playing creative outdoor games together!