Artsy & Outdoorsy
Skip the coloring books and take your whole family outside to have fun in nature and create some masterpieces at the same time. The great outdoors is the perfect canvas for your children to explore their artistic talents, and here’s a fun, easy project you can try with kids of all ages.
Grab some pencils and paper have your children find an object with an interesting texture, like a rock or leaf. Then, your kids can place the paper on top of that object and rub the side of their pencil on the paper, which will create a unique graphite “drawing” of the object. They can create several of these drawings and turn it into a memorable collage later.
Get Your Hands Dirty
Ignore that part of you that likes to stay neat and tidy, and accompany your kid outside to play in the mud. Calm down, germaphobes. Studies have shown that playing in the dirt actually strengthens your child’s immune system because they’re exposed to a plethora of generally harmless bacteria, viruses, and microbes. You can have fun too by pretending to dig to China or having a mud pie-making competition.
You don’t have to pack up the family and head to an exotic destination to have a little fun with photography. You can look up the state or national parks in your area because they are sure to have plenty of scenery and wildlife, which will be great subjects for your little photographers. Phone cameras are great, but there’s just something about teaching your kid how to use an old-school camera. If you don’t have one laying around, you can find an inexpensive, disposable one at a convenience store. First, demonstrate to your kids how to take quality photos, then let them loose to practice and snap as many photos as their hearts desire.
Four-Square or Be Square
We’ll bet that you haven’t played this exciting game since you were in elementary yourself, but this is the perfect time to pick it back up again. Draw a 12’x12’ square on your driveway in chalk (it doesn’t have to be perfect), and divide it into four smaller squares.
For those who need to brush up on the rules, have one player stand in each square. One player starts by bouncing the ball one time with his or her hands into any of the other three squares. Players keep bouncing the ball to one another until someone misses or bounces the ball out of bounds. Do a few rounds, and whoever wins gets to pick what’s for dinner!
Channel Your Inner Pirate
Plan a family “treasure hunt” by purchasing dollar store jewels and gold coins to plant somewhere on your property or your local park. Draw up a treasure map for your kids to follow, and if you want to make it look like a real map, dribble some coffee to brown it, and rip the edges while the paper is still wet.
To make this even more of a challenge, you can hide the map somewhere in your home so that your kids will only find it while putting away laundry or straightening their bed.
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
This is a great outdoor alternative to a post-dinner Netflix movie marathon. Instill curiosity and a love for the stars and planets in your children from a young age because you never know if they will want to become an astronaut or astronomer one day. Even if they don’t, an appreciation for the celestial bodies beyond our own planet is important and will help them with classwork later in life.
You can find an inexpensive telescope online or possibly even at a local electronics store. Purchase one and show your children where the planets are located in the sky and what constellations are visible during the summertime.
Stop, Drop, and Camp
The best parts about camping in your own backyard are that you don’t have to drive anywhere, if you forget something, you can run inside and grab it, and you can camp at a moment’s notice. Set up a tent in your backyard, and you can roast hot dogs on the fire, tell scary stories once it gets dark, and sleep on a blow up mattress under the stars.
Kids have wild imaginations anyways, so encourage them by playing make believe and have them pretend that they’re camping somewhere exotic. Where is it? What kind of animals live there? Your whole family will have a blast without ever having to leave the comfort of your own backyard
Grow Some Greens
Fresh, homegrown fruits and vegetables are tastier and healthier than those bought from the supermarket, not to mention starting a garden is a great learning experience for young children. Take your kids to a garden store or the gardening section of your nearby home improvement store and let them pick out what seeds they want to plant.
After the initial planting day, you can also give your children the fun responsibility of watering their plants every day, and they’ll reap the reward soon enough.
Hold Your Horses
Chances are, if you live in a semi-rural area, there will be a farm or a ranch around you that does horseback rides. They’ll usually start with a short lesson for people of all ages, then they’ll take the group on an easy trail ride that is accompanied by an experienced guide. Riding horses is an excellent skill-building activity, and it also provides a moderate workout.
If your kids enjoy this activity, you can sign them up for weekly lessons to improve their skills. Be careful, though, your children may start to love horses so much that they’ll beg you for one of their own!
Take to the Woods
If you have access to a private, forested area, pull the kids away from the television for an afternoon and help them build their own fort in the woods. You can work together to create it out of branches, leaves, and whatever else you can find.
You and your spouse can help them build the foundation with some of the heavier branches, but this is a great chance for your kids to express their creativity and work on their problem-solving skills. You can even pack some sack lunches to enjoy within the safe confines of your completed fort.