On average kids spend around six hours a day looking at screens. Preach. And we know, same as you how, hard it can be to muster the energy to get our kids off the iPad and out the front door. Even harder for parents after a day of school runs, homework and laundry (when will the laundry end?). But getting outside and into nature is important (I know, you know, we all know), and it doesn’t have to be a day-long excursion to Wicklow National Park, or camping for the weekend. It’s a simple as using your garden or local park as the canvas for an amazing adventure. If you’re stuck for ideas, here are some creative ways to get your kids more interested in what they can do when they play outside!
Seems like an obvious one when living in Ireland, but why not see how much rain you actually collect? Pop an old ice cream container outside in the garden and see how much water is collected in a day, a week, and a month. Keep a chart to keep track of the rainfall and see which month was wettest and which month was driest (hard to decipher as all months seem to be wet here).
Discover the underworld
Just steel yourself and turn over those large stones and branches. If you act scared and squeamish, it’s likely your kids will imitate you. Do you want to pass on those creepy crawly squeals to your kids? No. You don’t. You want them to be the cool person at the party that picks up the spider (in their HAND) and puts it outside. See what kind of critters live in those dark underground places.
Messy play! Kids love it, parents maybe not so much, but the perks of this is there’s no clean up when you’re doing it outside. Just get the wellies on and make yourself a family of mud people using leaves, twigs and stones to decorate their features. See what happens when you paste mud to tree trunks or onto stones. Watch how it dries or falls off. Or, collect some beautiful stones, leaves, pine cones and shells and bring them back inside to decorate with paint and glitter (of course). Try using them as prints onto paper or hold them on the page and paint their silhouette using bright colours.
Building a den
Or a fort, but either one it’s the ultimate outdoor activity. Once built you can indulge in playing an imaginary game of epic proportions. Top tip: ferns, I can’t stress how useful ferns are. They provide shade, a floor and help to build walls. They’re nature’s cornerstone of den building. Get yourself some ferns and get building.
Collect them, compare their shapes and sizes. Smash them onto the ground. Enough said.
Make a daisy chain or a grass whistle
It’s been so long since indulging in these simple activities but if you have a nice day in the park, making an epic daisy chain is a sure way to kill lots of hours. Plus it’s good for those fine motor skills too. And if you can manage to make the elusive grass whistle (I still can’t) then fair play to you. Fair play.
Leave out some seeds and dried fruit in your garden and watch to see what birds come down to take a bite! Have your child name each bird and draw a picture of them, or take a photo as they flit up. Create a bird book with all the facts you know about the birds that visited the garden.
If your kids struggle with activities of longer duration like hikes and walks, tell them it’s a race and do your best to keep up. Or if that doesn’t work, assure them that there’s shop on the top of the mountain. It’s called the ‘Summit’ (actual name of an actual shop in Howth) and it sells ice cream (they actually do). Although it’s not like anyone (me) ever fell for that ever (every time).
Spring is on the way and that means there will soon be wild blackberries, strawberries and apples ripe for the picking all over the country! Give your kids some buckets and get outside and get picking. Jams, tarts and pies are a sure way of getting those buckets full – just make sure they don’t all end up in little stomachs before you get home!
We’re not talking about the Michael Jackson kind here, but an actual walk at nighttime (if you can moonwalk in the dark without falling over, then do show your kids how!). Look at the moon, talk about the different stages, and see if you can spot any signs of nocturnal animals or insects on your moonwalk.
Or map making as it’s better known, this can be a fun way for you and your child to learn more about your area, and what lies outside your garden. Have your child explore the neighbourhood (supervised), then come home and draw a map of the area (as accurately as they can!). See what familiar places they can find, and how similar it looks to the actual map of the area!
Make a checklist for your child before you head out for a walk in the park. Get them to find things like something fuzzy, something smooth, a leaf, a seed, something straight, something round, something green and something they think is beautiful, etc. You can make it as simple or complex as you want.
Remember there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes!
Originally posted 2017-01-26 15:28:22.