An Hour of Play Every Day: 77 Things to do Outside!

An Hour of Play Every Day: 77 Things to do Outside!

 

 By Mary Bassett

My extended family loves to get together for dinner, playing games, and having fun. Towards the end of one particularly fun evening, my 4-year-old cousin asked to see my phone. When I asked her why she needed to see my phone, she told me she wanted to play games on it, I was shocked! It was a beautiful Sunday evening, but she wanted to play the games that were on my phone (joke’s on her because I didn’t have any games on my phone)! I chuckled a bit in disbelief and suggested that we go play outside. She scoffed and walked away to the next relative and asked to play on their phone.

We should be encouraging our children to play outside! Get them off of their screens, and out of the house. In order to do this, we need to get off of our screens, put down the phone, and make time to play! “When parents… join with [their children] in child-driven play, they are given a unique opportunity to see the world from their child’s vantage point as the child navigates a world perfectly created just to fit his or her needs…Parents who have the opportunity to glimpse into their children’s world learn to communicate more effectively with their children and are given another setting to offer gentle, nurturing guidance” (Ginsburg, 2007).  Childhood does not last forever and all too soon the requests of “Can you play with me?” will be gone, so don’t miss the chance to get to know your child in the world they create through their play.

When our kids are outside, they are gaining “cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being, offering the necessary conditions for children to thrive and learn. Through play, the child can experiment, solve problems, think creatively, cooperate with others, etc., gaining a deeper knowledge about his or herself and the world. From an early age, the possibility to experience several opportunities for unstructured play, in which the child can decide what to do, with whom and how, promotes positive self-esteem, autonomy, and confidence” (Bento et. al., 2017). Make time as a family to “play” outside without screens, with just your imaginations. 

Ready, set, GO!

  1. Play tag
  2. Ride around on your scooter
  3. Challenge your neighbors to a paper airplane contest
  4. Go on a bike ride
  5. Rollerblade
  6. Skateboard/longboard
  7. Go for a walk
  8. Go for a run
  9. Play at a park
  10. Throw a frisbee
  11. Play “the ground is lava!”
  12. Go to the zoo
  13. Play miniature golf
  14. Host a lemonade stand
  15. Jump on a trampoline
  16. Go berry or apple picking
  17. Color on the sidewalk with chalk
  18. Have a water balloon fight
  19. Plant a garden
  20. Jump rope
  21. Play four square
  22. Play wall-ball
  23. Set up a slip ‘n slide
  24. Run through the sprinklers
  25. Go hiking
  26. Splash around at your closest lake
  27. Find some ice cream!
  28. Play hide ‘n seek
  29. Have a scavenger hunt
  30. Have a picnic
  31. Go to an amusement park
  32. Go to a water park or splash pad
  33. Be a tourist in your own town
  34. Go horseback riding
  35. Have a garage sale 
  36. Go on a scavenger hunt
  37. Go to a farmer’s market
  38. Make a music video
  39. Volunteer/Find a service project
  40. Go swimming
  41. Make s’mores
  42. Have a bonfire
  43. Go geocaching
  44. Play flashlight tag
  45. Play freeze tag
  46. Climb a tree
  47. Build a treehouse
  48. Visit an animal shelter
  49. Go rock climbing
  50. Have an outdoor movie night
  51. Fly a kite
  52. Go camping
  53. Go fishing
  54. Have a nerf war!
  55. Walk your dog (you can rent a puppy if you don’t have a dog)
  56. Play volleyball
  57. Challenge some friends to a game of kickball
  58. Play soccer
  59. Play basketball
  60. Go rafting/river tubing
  61. Make a bird feeder
  62. Play with bubbles
  63. Feeding the ducks
  64. Find a local county fair
  65. Play hide-and-go-seek
  66. Have a sack race
  67. Paint balloon darts
  68. Play kickball
  69. Create an obstacle course
  70. Play capture the flag
  71. Play red rover
  72. Race down your street
  73. Play dodgeball
  74. Find a hill to roll down
  75. Go bird watching
  76. Pick flowers
  77. Kayak or canoe in your local lake

Encourage your kids to play outside, get dirty, and use their imaginations. Children need to be outside and be creative. “Imagining, trying new ways of doing things, and experimenting help develop critical thinking in children and foster creative problem-solving. Furthermore, imagination builds social-emotional development by allowing children to contemplate different resolutions, thus boosting children’s confidence, which can be used in interactions with others.” (Bright Horizons).

Looking for more helpful ideas? Check out The Danger With Using Screens as a Digital Pacifier. Or, use our lesson plan for your next family night, Using Technology for Good

Noah’s New Phone: A Story About Using Technology for Good is also an engaging story with great discussion questions that can help you and your family discuss how to have a great balance between tech and family life.

 

Mary Bassett recently graduated with her Bachelors of Science in Marriage and Family Studies from Brigham Young University of Idaho. She is currently an intern writer for Educate Empower Kids. She hopes to one day work as a Family Life Educator. She is passionate about educating families on how important love is in the home.

Citations:

Bento, G., & Disa, G. (2017, April 06). The importance of outdoor play for young children’s healthy development. Retrieved August 17, 2018, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2444866416301234

Bright Horizons. (n.d.). Nurturing Creativity & Imagination for Child Development. Retrieved August 9, 2018, from https://www.brighthorizons.com/family-resources/e-family-news/2014-nurturing-creativity-and-imagination-for-child-development

Ginsburg, K. R. (2007, January 01). The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds. Retrieved August 17, 2018, from http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/119/1/182.