Ask about any child in elementary school what their favorite subject or class in school is. Nine times out of ten they will say recess or P.E. Most children LOVE to be outdoors. They get to socialize with their friends, play sports they like or some just like the fresh air. These are just some of the reasons I like to keep my littles active!
Luckily my kiddos love to play outside. Honestly, some days that’s all they do is play outside. And I think it’s so great. Playing outdoors and being active has so many benefits!
According to a study conducted at the University of Missouri in 2010, outside play has a huge impact on brain development. AND it can start as early as three months old! It helps with the development of baby’s senses and [fine and gross] motor development. I see this ALL THE TIME working as an ABA [Applied Behavior Analysis] therapist. I help teach my clients so many things through play. Play therapy is best thing, in my opinion. Helping children identify different senses of the body and playing socially with their peers is all apart of it! What kiddos might think is a super fun game of hopscotch is also a great way to work on those gross motor skills! I’m all about learning while having fun!
In the study they also pointed out that in addition to brain development, outdoor play helps increase children’s creativity and imagination as well! Playing pretend and running from the dragons to save the princess! Who doesn’t remember playing that when they were little?! So many other things- coordination, spatial awareness, learning abilities, increased blood flow, and countless other benefits are associated with outdoor play! You can visit and read the full study here. I highly suggest reading this! It has great ideas on outdoor play activities you can incorporate in your day-to-day routine with your littles and it’s very educating!
The study gives you awesome ideas, and I might have some of the same but here are a list of outdoor play activities I like to do with my kiddos:
- Bubbles [I was at Wal-mart yesterday and they have A TON of bubble toys for super cheap!]
- Chalk or chalk paint [amazon is my go-to for these, or Costco!]
- You can draw roads and play with cars
- Practice writing or drawing shapes
- Trampoline [sometimes I do my workouts around the trampoline while the kids jump]
- Put water and bubbles on for some water play
- Put balls on the trampoline for some sensory fun
- Water play [lots of different ideas for this one]
- Kiddie pool [you can get these super cheap at Wal-mart]
- Water buckets or water play tables [you can fill these up with bubbles and bath toys even]
- Water beads [not gonna lie, these are fun for kids and adults!]
- Slip-n-slides for older kids
- Water guns [if your kiddo doesn’t like to get sprayed you could make some DIY targets and put them around your backyard and make it a game to see who can get the most points!]
- Tag or hide-n-seek [would be fun to play somewhere out in the community or neighborhood if you don’t have a lot of hiding options in your yard]
- Park [this is a big one for us and PERFECT for socializing with other peers]
- Go for a walk or hike/ ride bikes or scooters
- Ball play
- For older kiddos- dodgeball, football, softball, basketball, etc.
- For younger kiddos- rolling the ball, kicking the ball, bouncing, throwing, etc.
- Dog park/beach
- Building sandcastles
- If you have really little ones you can bring along your kiddie pool and fill it with sand or water
- Dig a big hole
- Pick some flowers, search for sticks, pinecones, and rocks for painting [or make fairy wands!]
- Make a fairy garden
- Plant some flowers
- If you get a group together to split one, you can have movie night in your backyard! Make popcorn, hand out glowsticks and watch a fun film!
The last thing I will add and some advice that I will give out from my experience is….LET THEM GET DIRTY! Let them play in the mud. And join them! Make some mudpies [actual mudpies not poop] with them. Let them experience that sensory input! It’s so good and healthy for them. A little dirt don’t hurt nobody 😉