Outdoor Activities That Are Fun for the Whole Family

August 7, 2021
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Written by Jenny Miller at Stop NDD (nature deficit disorder)

Photo of two children playing in a creek during the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection's staff trash pick-up event.

Are you looking for some wholesome entertainment for you and the kids? Go outside and play! Getting outside allows you and your children to participate in activities that are healthy and fun. Here are some great tips to get you pointed in the right direction.

Why Outdoors?

Spending time outside is good for both you and your kids. As explained by Harvard Health Publishing, fresh air and sunshine offer many benefits to mental and physical well-being, such as more opportunities for exercise, enhanced vitamin D production, better concentration, reduced pain and stress, and feeling more relaxed.

Children who play outside are less apt to battle obesity, as well as the many health factors that go along with it, such as heart disease and diabetes. What’s more, studies show that kids who play outside experience less illness, handle stress better, enjoy more diverse and imaginative playtime, navigate risks more confidently, and are more inclined to have a positive attitude toward others.

Here are some ideas for activities that you and your children can do outdoors:

Chalk art. Drawing on your patio, sidewalk, or driveway are fun ways for kids to be creative and play outside. Working Mother suggests taking the opportunity to teach little ones about shapes, numbers, letters, and colors. And tracing each other to turn the outlines into superheroes is fun for any age!

Camping. You can go to an area park for camping or set up tents in your own backyard. Many parks provide outdoor grills, showers, and bathrooms; some offer various nature trails; and some have access to pools and lakes for some fun in the water. Check out parks near you to see what amenities are available.

One suggestion is to incorporate watching wildlife into your outing, which provides terrific sensory input to offset the many hours most of us (including kids) spend in front of electronic devices.

Hiking or walking. You don’t need to camp to enjoy hiking. Hiking trails offer the opportunity to connect with nature and stretch your legs with the family. Or, if you just want to get outside for a stroll, an evening walk after dinner or a morning tour of the neighborhood are great ways to take in the great outdoors. Bring along flashlights after dark for a nighttime adventure. Kids can burn off energy, and you can blow off steam!

Car wash. Washing the car allows you to have a wonderful time with your kids while accomplishing a chore! Even though your children might miss a few spots, spending time playing with suds and water can offer cool entertainment on a hot day. Just be sure to use environmentally friendly soaps and that you park on the grass or let water run off into a garden or lawn so the soil can break down the soap and grime, not into a road or storm drain where it will end up in a stream.

Swimming. Whether in a pool, a water park, or a pond, swimming is big fun for the whole family. Country Living suggests playing water games, which can involve water toys such as floaties and pool noodles. You can pull out the water guns, too!

While outdoor activities can be fun for the whole family, there are some precautions to keep in mind.

Pool Safety

Drowning can happen quickly and without warning, so be stringent about pool safety and ensure your children take swimming lessons as early as possible. Many communities offer free or reduced lessons for safety. You should also learn to swim yourself, and make sure an adult is always present when your children swim.

Lastly, make sure your pool is fenced in and locked when not in use. If you don’t have a fence for your pool, websites like Angi.com offer recommendations for top fence installation pros near you. Before hiring, figure out your budget and choose the materials that you can best afford (e.g., a wood fence costs $16 per foot on average, while you can expect to pay $40 per foot for an aluminum fence). While you should keep these figures in mind, it’s always wise to get estimates from services for more accurate pricing.

Other Precautions

One of the most important discussions you can have when planning outdoor activities with your children should focus on basic safety tips. After all, you want your outings to be all about fun, and incidents and injuries shouldn’t be part of that picture! Encourage your children to wear sunscreen and insect repellent, and to keep hydrated. Remind them to stay in safe areas and never to wander off. And discourage them from eating anything they find outdoors, such as mushrooms or berries, unless they know proper identification.

Family time is more fun and healthier when you take it outside. Find ways to engage your kids in the great outdoors, with fun activities that stimulate both the body and mind. Whether letting them flex their creativity with chalk art, or even getting in touch with nature, there is plenty to do outdoors. Just be sure to follow basic safety rules and keep your outings positive, entertaining, and engaging!

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