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How To Get Kids Outside!

A dad and his son sit by a campfire roasting marshmallows while out on a camping trip

“We have such a brief opportunity to pass on to our children our love for this Earth, and to tell our stories. These are the moments when the world is made whole. In my children's memories, the adventures we've had together in nature will always exist.”

Where The Wild Things Aren't

American children in this day and age are spending 35% less time outdoors than their parents did growing up. Not only that, but the average child spends approximately 4-7 minutes outside and 7 hours in front of a screen per day! A statistic that has only gotten worse after the last year of covid lockdown.

This endemic of inactivity can be confronted. This week, we will be sharing tips and tricks to help reintroduce kids into the outdoors!

Six Benefits To Spending More Time Outside

  1. 1
    Sun Exposure
    The sun is of vital importance for our bodies to make vitamin D, an essential vitamin that supports healthy bone growth and immune system functionality. Sun exposure also promotes a healthy sleep cycle and improves mood. Our bodies work best with at least some sun exposure every day.
  2. 2
    A growing child should be spending at least one hour being active every day. The best activity for a child is unstructured playtime outside, giving them a chance to exercise their mind and imagination just as much as their body!
  3. 3
    Executive Function
    Unstructured free time in nature benefits the skills that help us plan, prioritize, troubleshoot, negotiate, and multitask. Being given the time and space to tap into imagination is essential for the developing mind. Creating games, figuring things out, self-amusement, all found once a child steps outside!
  4. 4
    Taking Risks
    A child will never learn what they can do without at least some space to make mistakes and problem solve from them. The lessons we learn from failure are just as important as the ones we learn from success!
  5. 5
    Appreciation of Nature
    Our world depends on our future generations. Today’s children having a deep personal connection with the nature on this planet is essential for its survival. How could anyone know how to appreciate wild animals or playing in a stream if they’ve never experienced any of it?
  6. 6
    Having unstructured play time with other children gives kids an opportunity to learn how to work together, how to make friends, and how to share and cooperate. These essential socialization skills are more difficult to learn in a schedule packed with structured, pre-planned activities.

Table of Contents

A young girl puts an egg carton of baby plants by the window

Three Ways To Get Your Kids Outside - Hobbies

One can do endless activities to stay stimulated in nature, and there is never a bad time to start a new hobby! Now that summer is right around the corner, and Happy Campers is here to help inspire you to get outside with your family. Here are a few examples of outdoor activities that any age group can enjoy!

1. Gardening

Introduce your children to a deeper appreciation for plant life! There are a plethora of easy outdoor gardening activities. From flower pots to vegetable beds to windowsill herb boxes, gardening instills a sense of responsibility and confidence in developing children. Watch before your eyes as your plants grow strong and beautify your home space!

2. Rock Collecting

It’s incredible when you realize what treasures are waiting to be found in your own yard! Rock collections are great for learning about the land or using for craft materials. Rock collecting teaches attentiveness, detail orientation, and increased categorical knowledge. Encourage your child to look for beautiful keepsakes to cherish for a lifetime!

3. Birdwatching

Taking time to stop and listen to the birds is a great way to get lost in nature! Birdwatching is an incredible stress reliever that grants a deeper appreciation for the biology of a specific place. Put a bird feeder or birdbath in your yard and learn how to identify the different songs. Who said birdwatching was for later in life anyway?

Two brother toddlers run through the park with a kite

Three Ways To Get Your Kids Outside - Games

You’re outside with your family. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and you couldn’t have asked for better weather. So now that you’re all out and about, what do you spend your time doing together? Happy Campers is here to suggest a couple of our favorite outdoor games that the whole family can participate in!

1. Scavenger Hunt

What could be more fun than a scavenger hunt, for any age group! Scavenger hunts are easy to create and provide endless entertainment. They require focus and attentiveness, excellent skills for the developing mind.  This type of activity also allows kids to participate in problem-solving in a fun and tangible way. The best part, scavenger hunts are easily customizable and can be a new experience every time! 

2. Hide and Seek

Everyone has memories of the fun that comes from a good game of hide and seek. This activity is perfect for getting kids excited and familiar with their environment. A local park would be the ideal setting for this game! Hide and seek can even be combined with tag, establish a home base, and encourage the kids to try and make it back to safety for an additional exercise element!

3. Obstacle Course

Ready, set, GO! Obstacle courses provide a highly interactive environment and a great time for kids and bolster healthy competition and confidence. It is recommended that children get at least one hour of exercise per day, a necessity that is perfectly met by running through an obstacle course. The best part? It doesn’t have to be complicated to be fun!

Three Ways To Get Your Kids Outside - Activity Relocation

Sometimes when confronting new experiences, taking baby steps is often the best approach. For example, your child probably isn’t ready to go from watching 7 hours of tv per day to hiking for 7 hours per day, understandably so.

A great way to start getting kids used to the outdoors is by relocating some of their favorite indoor activities. Bring their coloring book out on the patio, throw a blanket in the grass as home base for a game. After all, sunshine and a cool breeze make everything more enjoyable! 

1. Eat Outside

Whether it’s a midday snack or a multi-course dinner, eating outside is a great place to start when relocating indoor activities to the great outdoors. So pack up a picnic and head to your favorite neighborhood park, and you may even find your food tastes better with the setting sun in the background!

2. Arts & Crafts

A new project is a great way to keep kids entertained and engaged. Dust off the picnic table and set up shop for a few fun hours of creative exploration! You can even collect leaves, rocks, sticks, and other materials from your surroundings to incorporate in whatever art project you choose. Not sure where to start? Click the button below for some simple and affordable crafts that will tap into any child’s imagination!

3. Reading

What could be more picturesque than reading a book beneath a tree with sunbeams streaming through the leaves? If your child is already interested in reading or listening to you read, moving reading time to the outdoors is an easy and enjoyable pastime. Looking to start a new literary adventure? Click the button below for a list of some of the top recommended books for kids!

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