Looking for something free and healthy to do with the kids? Then take a look at out top five things to do with your kids Outside.
I was blessed with a childhood where I played outside, was allowed to roam, get wet, dirty and played amongst ruined castles and climbed up ancient hills. I know not everyone has a ruined medieval castle in their village, but everyone has access to a park or to some form of green space. It’s shocking that now children spend less than 30 minutes outside a day. This has alarmed the National Trust, and this summer they have brought out 50 things to do before your reach 11 3/4. The list included visiting a farm, going on a long bike ride and making a daisy chain. The fact that the National Trust feel the need to make such a list shows just how bad things seem to be getting.
Granted, back in my day we didn’t have such exciting things like iPads, but I’m not a child of the so called ‘good old days’ of the 50’s and 60’s, which seems to breed ridicules and probably fake nostalgia. I’m a child of the 90s and early 2000’s. I had a PlayStation, at 13 I had a mobile phone, I had the internet (dial-up) and digital TV, but I still played outside and loved it. I could do this because my parents let me. Yes, there were busy roads through our village, but I learnt how to cross them safely and I doubt it occurred to them that anyone would want to kidnap me. These childhood exploits has meant I’ve fostered a love of the outdoors – so here are a few tips to help foster a love of the outdoors in you and your children wherever you are.
Build a Den
I loved building dens when I was a kid. Whether I was building one in my room, the garden, or outside in the woods and fields, it was a lot of fun. Let your kids gather fallen tree branches and build a little hidey-hole just for them – strictly no adults. This can be done in the garden too, with old sheets, chairs and a little imagination.
Climb a tree
It’s fun to climb trees and kids love to climb. Find a climbable and safe tree – no weak or broken-looking branches – and let them scamper up it. Obviously, don’t let them go too high. Oak trees are usually great trees to climb and willows are fun to hide in. Let them climb a tree without ropes, mattresses and other safety equipment. When I lived in London I saw in a “village fair” in a park were some climbing ropes and harnesses were being used to teach kids how to climb a tree…yes this really happened. I’m not sure if I should think lucky them for not having to learn the hard way what happens if you get it wrong or be appalled.
Using stones to get across a steam
As long as the water isn’t deep, too fast flowing, icy, or the stream too wide, let them hop across the water over the rocks to the other side. It does not matter if they get wet – clothes dry and are washable.
Let them run about in an unstructured way
There seems to be a huge amount of structure in children’s lives. If you are on the beach, park or any open space let them run around and make a noise. Its fun – maybe not for the adults hearing them shriek – but it’s fun for them and gets all their energy out. Let them explore what is around them – exploring was one of my favourite things to do as a child and it still is.
When you go for a walk in the park, beach, nature reserve,garden or the woods, take an interest in the life around you. You can play a game where you spot bees, different types of birds, bugs, butterflies, flowers, dragonflies, plants and rabbits. Maybe take a camera with you and let your little ones take photos of the world around them. Go on the same walk at different times of year and take photos of how the landscape changes with the seasons – maybe even make some art work around it.