Does anyone else struggle to get your kids to play outside? The stereotype holds true at my house. My kids have to be convinced, prodded, and forced to get outside. And then, after the struggle to get them outside, what happens? Most of the time, they end up loving it, and then they don’t want to stop playing outside. This struggle is totally worth it, because there are so many benefits to children playing outside!
Preschoolers need to stay active throughout the day. Of course, anyone who has spent time with a preschooler is very aware of this fact. Playing outside helps them to get fresh air and to see something new. It also gives them a chance to explore and discover. Outdoor play works their senses as they see, hear, smell, and touch things they wouldn’t sense indoors. Hopefully tasting is not a sense that is exercised here, but we do what we can, right?
The exploring that naturally happens outside, even in a small yard, opens the door to hands-on education. The outdoors offers an abundance of building and crafting materials. It allows imaginative play and it provides materials for the accompanying props.
Outdoor play allows all children the space they need to really run and be active. Add the fun of wheels, and that freedom expands. It’s a great outlet for energy, a great opportunity to get in some vigorous exercise, and a great feeling for anyone!
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There are plenty of ways to have fun in your own yard, but it’s also fun to bring in something new to get your children playing outside.
You could go big and get a big playset. These provide for tons of fun every day. Big playsets are not an option for everyone though. And we can come up with quite a few smaller ways to have big fun in our own yards.
Chalk is a super affordable, easy way to have fun on a patio, driveway, or sidewalk. Most of us are experienced with chalk art with little ones. But we can find ways to make it different and fun. One year, my kids and I drew giant, decorative holiday greetings in the middle of our street and along the sidewalks. We hoped it would bring a smile to our neighbors.
You can also use chalk to set up games. Try some traditional games like a hopscotch board or a 4-square court. Or you could draw a chalk bullseye and toss rocks to see who can get closest to the middle. Would your kids have fun drawing a car track and then playing with cars on it? What if you drew out a fun obstacle course for your kids to follow? There are so many things you can do with a stick of chalk and a sidewalk. You can find an enormous list of both educational and fun chalk activities here at What Moms Love.
Simple toys like balls, frisbees, hula hoops, and jump ropes can help our kids have more fun outside. There are so many ball games we can play, from simple catch to official sports. We can even set up simple ball games in our yards with simple items. Try throwing a ball into a hoola hoop laid on the ground, or hang the hoola hoop somewhere and try to throw the ball through it. Or save some juice and milk containers to use for outdoor bowling.
Try some of these simple activities or search the internet to find a million more ideas to get your children playing outside!
Ways to Get Out Beyond Our Yards
While our yards are always a great option, they can become the same old places for our kids. And many of us don’t have big yards, or any yards at all.
One easy solution is to use local parks and playgrounds for a good space to play or for a change of scene. This is also an easy way for your child to meet new people. Many parks have large open spaces where you can play soccer, throw a frisbee, or fly a kite.
If your street has a lot of children, you could work with your neighbors to set a time and a specific area to use as a safe play zone. This would be so fun for older kids!
For families that love to get out and about, you can decide together on some outdoor destinations – hikes, waterfalls, national parks. Be sure to allow plenty of time for exploring and free play.
Whether it’s at home or out and about, we can get our children playing outside. Let’s come up with some fun ways to help them really enjoy being outside this season!
We Can Help!
Need some inspiration to get your kids excited to play outside? Both our Rachel & Me series and our Signing Time series have episodes about Going Outside. Plus, our Signing Time Dictionary has entire sections of signs for Nature and for Places. And of course, it makes sense to start with the sign for outside.