Encouraging children to be active outdoors can help them stay healthier and avoid weight problems now and in the future. The sunny days of spring and summer are perfect opportunities to enjoy outdoor adventures with children; here are ten outstanding choices for parents and kids to experience together.
Even the youngest children can enjoy the fun of digging in the earth, planting seeds and watching them grow. Hardy flowers and easy-to-grow vegetables are the best choices for toddlers, while older children can choose their own favorites for inclusion in the family garden. By setting aside a special patch for each child, parents can help children develop a sense of pride and accomplishment in their own garden domain.
For many children, exploring the world around them offers endless appeal. A butterfly net, insect collecting kit or just a glass jar with holes poked in the lid can serve as a starting point for a nature hike adventure. Younger children may tire quickly, so consider the age and stamina of the kids involved when planning the route for these hikes.
Whether it’s an inexpensive paddling pool, a public swimming pool or just a refreshing run through the sprinklers, parents and kids can have fun in the summer sun by simply adding water. Water fights and water balloons can add a competitive element to the play, but the main focus should be on fun. Parents should ensure that children are properly supervised at all times during water play.
Arboretums and public gardens
Aspiring botanists may enjoy a trip through one of the local gardens or arboretums. These attractions typically include native plants and may feature rare or exotic specimens as well; some larger gardens may feature topiaries or other kid-friendly plantings.
While professionally maintained miniature golf courses can provide family fun at a price, building a homemade mini-golf course at home with household items is a fun outdoor project that requires creativity and involves the whole family. Empty cans can be used as the holes, while whiffle bats or croquet mallets can serve as clubs and small rubber or golf balls are perfect for use on the course.
While commercially available kites may fly better, making and flying homemade kites can be a wonderful spring or early summer activity. For even more fun, use plastic sheeting and markers rather than paper and crayons; plastic kites are lighter in weight, more durable and often fly better than their paper counterparts. Be sure to stay away from power lines and other hazards when it’s time to fly.
Depending on the family’s overall state of fitness, taking family bike trips is a fun way to see the countryside and get back to nature. Before heading out, however, parents should take time to teach children the rules of the road and ensure that their biking skill is up to the challenges of the journey.
T-ball, peewee football and youth soccer leagues can help children develop valuable social skills like teamwork, cooperation and good sportsmanship. The physical benefits of these team sports should not be overlooked; because these activities are games, children can enjoy friendly competition while engaging in healthy outdoor exercise.
Boating and fishing
While some children lack the patience for fishing, it can provide the opportunity to discuss where food comes from and how to protect the natural environment. Sailing and canoeing are good ways to get out into the sun and enjoy time as a family; don’t forget to pack the sunscreen, however, as rays reflected from the water can cause sunburns in record time.
A trip to a good public zoo can be educational as well as fun for children. Exhibits that explain the natural habitats of the animals offer solid information, and guided tours are sometimes available for an added fee to provide even more educational value. Strollers are a must for younger children who may get tired during their day at the zoo.
By participating in these activities with their children, parents can instill a love of the outdoors and help promote a healthy, active lifestyle that can provide benefits for years into the future.