Kids today spend a lot of time looking at screens, be it television, computers or gaming systems. All that screen time can take a toll on their physical well-being, so it's important to get them off the couch and into the great outdoors. However, they may need more enticement than a general command to "go outside and play." Encourage your children to get outside for some serious fun with a few creative activities. Join in the fun to create lasting family memories.
Hunt Up Some Fun
Kids love treasure hunts, so create your own scavenger hunt. You don't have to spend time hiding items around the yard; just use what mother nature provides. Pine cones, bird feathers, oak leaves, flower blooms (those that have fallen on the ground) and small sticks are a few things for your list. For added excitement, hit a local hiking trail or park and look for geocaches: hidden caches that are tracked using GPS.
Get in the Game
Everyone loves a good game, so gather up the neighborhood kids for a pick-up game of baseball, soccer, football, kickball, dodgeball – whatever they love to play. Organized games will keep the children going for at least an hour, maybe longer. Extend the fun by hosting your own neighborhood Olympics featuring a variety of events: sack races, three-legged races, egg relays, bean bag toss and so on. Make homemade medals for the winners.
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Play in the Dirt
Just about all children love to play in the dirt, so why not plant a flower and/or vegetable garden? Because these gardens need regular attention, they are a great way to get kids outside frequently. Depending on their age, the kids can have various responsibilities, from helping plant seeds and watering plants to pulling weeds and placing fertilizer. When it's time to harvest, they'll love seeing the "fruits" of their labor.
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Nothing beats the heat on a hot summer day like playing in the water. Kids will have fun cooling off as they wash the family car. While it may not be a perfect job, it will knock some of the dirt off the vehicle. Another fun way to play in the water is setting up the grass sprinkler. Both the yard and the kids will get a good watering!
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Go to the Dogs
Both the kids and the family dog will get a healthy dose of exercise by taking a walk together. If they are too little to head out on their own, have younger kids walk the dog around the house. If they are older, they can stroll along the sidewalk in front of the house, while teens can walk around the block.
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Hit the Road
Riding bikes usually ranks as one of kids' favorite pastimes, so gear them up with their helmets and send them on their way. While little ones will get a good workout riding around the driveway, older kids can set off down the sidewalk for a longer trip. Mom and dad can make it a true family journey by gearing up and heading out with the children for a leisurely bike ride.
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Take to the Skies
Beautiful, warm, sunshiny days are perfect for flying a kite. Children will love seeing these colorful objects floating and twirling on the breeze. Plus, they have great stamina to run around and keep those kites in the air. Other ways to play in the sky include flying remote-control airplanes and launching model rockets. Just make sure there is an adult in the group to supervise these activities.
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Display Their Inner Artist
Grab some sidewalk chalk and take the kids outside to create their own outdoor gallery on the driveway or sidewalk. They'll love having free reign to express their creativity all over the concrete surfaces. Aside from getting the kids outside, a great bonus for parents is the easy cleanup. Kids can clean off chalky hands with a little soap and water; parents can wash away the driveway artwork with a spray of the water hose.
Light Up the Night
Outdoor fun isn't limited to daylight hours. Head outside after dark for a game of flashlight tag; it's traditional hide-and-seek but the "it" person tags others by shining a light on them. Or see who can catch the most fireflies. For an educational twist, search out the various constellations and discuss the stories behind them. Stargazing is especially neat when planets are visible or a meteor shower is expected.
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Have a Block Party
One of the best ways to get the kids outside is with a party. Bring the entire neighborhood together for an afternoon of fun at a block party. Coordinate with your neighbors to put together a schedule of games, organize food and come up with decorations. Everyone will have a great time playing and visiting with one another in the great outdoors.
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