Kid-friendly tips to encourage more outside play
(Family Features) In today’s digital world, creating memories with loved ones and experiencing the joys of Mother Nature are some of the best reasons to turn off the TV, put down the tablet and get outdoors. From picnics to wild adventures to simple backyard games, there are dozens of ways to help kids explore all the exciting ways to live life outside.
A generation ago, 75 percent of American children played outside daily, but according to the National Recreation and Park Association, only 25 percent do the same these days. Not only are today’s youth missing out on a pastime treasured for generations, repeated studies have shown that children who play outside are more physically active, more creative in their play, less aggressive and show better concentration.
From camping in your backyard to planning a scavenger hunt, these tips from the outdoor experts at TruGreen can help provide inspiration to get your family on track toward living life outside more often.
Edible entertainment. Dining al fresco is one of the greatest ways to enjoy the outdoors. Invite family, friends or neighbors over for a barbecue, and be sure to save room for dessert with the gooey goodness of marshmallows roasted over a fire pit (add graham crackers and chocolate for a timeless campfire favorite in your own backyard).
Delight after dusk. Streetlights were once the signal that it’s time to head indoors, but once kids are safely home, take them out back to explore the outdoors at night. Stargaze under the open night sky, watch for nighttime critters such as lightning bugs or pitch a tent for a backyard campout. Ask the neighbors to join you, and organize a game of flashlight tag or enjoy a movie under the stars.
Home-grown experience. Even many adults don’t fully understand where food comes from. Help foster a greater understanding by encouraging kids to plant a mini garden they can tend themselves until the produce is ready to harvest. Inspire the project with a trip to the local farmer’s market, where together you can wander outdoors while selecting fresh produce to prepare for dinner.
Physical fun. If you don’t already have them, take kids along on a quick shopping trip to gather the items they need for more physical activity outside. Bikes, helmets, bats, balls – the possibilities go on and on.
Artistic expression. Turning the imagination loose outdoors can result in magical artistic creations. Pull out a tub of oversized chalk and watch a masterpiece emerge on the sidewalk, or let the sun’s rays melt old crayons into funky new colors and shapes. And, for a fun arts and crafts project, try making homemade bird feeders.
Imaginative play. Away from all the digital distractions, kids’ minds are free to wander. Let them set their imaginations free by assembling their own backyard games. Make water toys with sponges, create a “river” out of rocks or dirt where homemade boats can sail or plan a scavenger hunt to explore every corner of the yard.
For more outdoor activity ideas, visit TruGreen.com and Pinterest.com/TruGreen.