I stumbled upon a blog post at Happy Science Mom the other day that struck a chord with me. It talked about the things kids aren’t doing if they’re inside watching TV or playing video games. The post is How Technology Prevents Our Kids From Enjoying Nature.
It made me think about my own technology usage, too. When I bring A outside for a “field trip”, I feel so much better personally. I spend at least 10 hours a week on blogging alone, not counting personal Facebook usage, text messaging, all of that. I felt like I needed to compile a list of ideas of outdoor activities for kids so that on days I’m not feeling so creative, I can refer to it and feel inspired. I also want to share the list in case it might help other moms do the same!
I also wanted to make the list for more than just sunny weather. I remember going out to play in all kinds of weather as a kid, since we lived in the Pacific Northwest, where it rains a lot. Some of my favorite trips to the nearby beach were when it was raining. My favorite kind of weather is when it’s cold and rainy. What can I say? I loved growing up in Washington. I want to help my son to be able to enjoy all weather, as well, because he loves being outdoors. Literally, if we haven’t gone outside in a given day, he’s a wreck. He becomes a lot grumpier and shorter-tempered. But I also think it’s good for kids to get fresh air regularly.
There’s a German proverb I love that says “there is no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.” Germans are big on fresh air. It was sometimes a point of contention when I was growing up that my dad would open all the windows for 30 minutes a day even when it was cold, but now I absolutely try to do the same thing. Point is, I don’t buy into the idea that I hear a lot that going out in the rain will give you a cold. I believe that staying inside and breathing stale air all day is much more likely to make you sick.
Note that you’ll see a few repeats between categories, but that’s just because these are activities suitable to all weather! You’ll also notice that many of these activities are a little messy. It’s okay! Put on some clothes you don’t mind getting a little dirty, and remember that things can be cleaned and sensory play is good for you (and your kids!)
Without further ado, the list!
Disclaimer: Now, remember to use your common sense and determine for yourself the safety of the following activities for your family. I don’t know your family, I can’t tell you what’s good or bad for you specifically. So be smart 🙂
- Go for a walk
- Play with a sand/water table. If you don’t own one, it’s easy enough to make! Grab a big box and a pie plate (I used a metal disposable one for obvious reasons), fill the pie plate with water and put sand around it. The Squish spent an hour and a half playing with his and was devastated when I had to bring him back inside.
- Finger paint
- Run through sprinklers
- Play in the sandbox (if you don’t have one, I love this idea for a natural sand pit from The Artful Parent!)
- Play in the mud.
- Look for bugs.
- Look for birds.
- Lay in the grass and look at the clouds.
- If you live near an airport, you could watch the planes go past and make up stories about the people on them. The Squish is at the age where he just loves seeing planes: whenever he hears one, he gets all excited and starts looking around. It’s adorable.
- Watch the sunrise/sunset.
- If you have a slide in your backyard, grab your garden hose, set it so the water runs down the slide – boom. Instant water slide! A friend of mine and I used to do this all the time when we were kids.
- Go to the park.
- Go to the zoo.
- Go ice blocking.
- Create land art: Collect leaves, twigs, etc and try to make a picture out of it. You may want to glue it to paper to save it, but that’s all up to you.
- Have a relay race.
- Use an old sheet and paint to make lawn art.
- Camp out.
- Have an outdoor dance party.
- Go on a hike
- Go kayaking (I loved this when we lived in Washington! Obviously for older kids, but still.)
- Roll down grassy hills (come on, I know you did this as a kid. Admit it.)
- Make parachutes for toys and drop them from as high as you can (like the slide at the park)
- Bring a board game outdoors (I’d advise one with not a lot of pieces.)
- Draw the things you see outside.
- Read outside.
- Have a picnic.
- Ride a bike.
- Have a water balloon fight.
- Jump rope.
- Read books outside.
- Make a sundial.
- Play basketball.
- Play soccer.
- Grab a baseball glove and a baseball and play catch.
- Make a volcano.
- Plant something.
- Color with sidewalk chalk.
- Blow bubbles.
- Play hopscotch.
- Play games like red rover and red light/green light.
- Have a car wash (or bike or outdoor toy wash!)
- Here’s a big list of other fun water games.
- Roast marshmallows over a fire.
- Visit a nearby body of water and skip rocks.
- Go for a walk.
- Splash in the puddles
- Play in the mud.
- Look for bugs and worms (this will be a lot different than doing it when it’s sunny!)
- Catch raindrops in a bucket.
- Have a relay race.
- Make nature boats: use leaves and twigs and anything you can find to (idea from Go Explore Nature)
- Create rain art: put a few drops of food coloring or powdered tempera paint on a paper plate and head outside!
- Create land art:Collect leaves, twigs, etc and try to make a picture out of it.
- Give your child a disposable waterproof camera and let them take pictures of the stormy weather (idea from Grandparents.com)
- Camp out; when you see clouds start to gather, set up your tent. You can watch the rain fall from a dry place and can do traditional camp activities (like flashlight games, etc) from the safety of your tent. Or just read a few books in a new location!
- Dance! Maybe you can find some songs that are on theme, like Umbrella by Rihanna.
- Make a backyard water park: instead of trying to keep dry, embrace the wetness and have a water balloon fight, play in the sprinklers, or slide down a backyard slide… which has now turned into a water slide!
- Visit a nearby body of water and skip rocks
- Visit the ocean: Call me crazy, but growing up in Washington, some of my favorite memories of being at the ocean are when it was raining.
- Go for a walk (a jogging stroller or baby carrier may come in handy here)
- Build a snowman.
- Get a few spray bottles; fill each with water and a little food coloring. Use it to spray the snow. Snow painting!
- Have a snowball fight.
- Go sledding. If you don’t own a sled, try a cardboard box or trash can lid.
- Try to build an igloo
- Dance party!
- Try to catch snowflakes on your tongue.
- Make snow ice cream.
- Go snowshoeing (can you figure out a DIY way to do this? Could be a fun competition!)
- Go ice skating, if feasible.