This spring and summer will likely be different from any we’ve ever known before, and summer camps may not be available. So, how should you respond?
A child life specialist tells Cincinnati Children's Hospital that playing can be exactly the therapy your kids need. She adds that parents don’t need to stress out about creating complex games because simple can be best. She also notes that giving your children choices about how to play can give them a sense of control in these uncertain times. Kids can play endless outdoor games, which is a good source of physical activity and for getting some vitamin D.
Outdoor activities for children that she recommends include drawing with sidewalk chalk. This “oldie but goodie” is a simple way to keep children engaged for quite a while — and if you do it in the front of your house, kids can even create pictures for your neighbors to enjoy.
What about drawing a hopscotch board on your sidewalk or driveway? Find a couple of flat stones and you’re in business!
Another idea is to take children on a walk, perhaps in your neighborhood or at a local park. You can add to the fun by creating a nature scavenger hunt where they need to choose their favorite flower or tree, see how many colors birds have on their feathers or name soft items seen on the walk.
Plus, outdoor activities for kids can be as simple as enjoying lunch or a snack in the backyard, with food and drinks spread out on a blanket. After the meal is done, they can participate in races. Who can hop on one foot the longest? Run backward? How can you create a simple obstacle course that your children can navigate? Kids love a good challenge.
PDXParent.com has another helpful idea and that’s to show your children how to grow flowers, or vegetables and herbs. You can use cleaned out yogurt containers or empty egg cartons to plant seeds and then transplant them when the time and weather is right.
GardeningKnowHow.com expands upon this idea, sharing tips about gardening with your children. (As a side benefit, kids who may not always enjoy eating their veggies may change their minds if they grow them!)
Benefits of this outdoor activity for children include the following:
- Gardening allows children to explore what they’re innately curious about: nature.
- This activity allows them to gain a sense of responsibility and self-esteem as they care for the growing plants.
- Gardening engages a child’s senses, from sight to taste, and from smell to touch.
Good vegetables for a children’s garden include beets, carrots, radishes, tomatoes and peas. Once harvested, you can use them as part of your backyard meals. Good flowers and herbs include marigolds, nasturtiums, mint, dill, sunflowers and zinnias. Be sure your children don’t nibble on any plants until you give them permission because not all of them are edible.
Finally, there are car parades. Perhaps your children are sad because friends or family members are skipping birthday parties this year. So give your children some art supplies and let them sit on your porch or deck while they make cheerful birthday signs and enjoy the sunshine.
Then, pack up your car with your kids, their signs, and perhaps some noise-making toys. Drive up to the curb of the birthday boy or girl, honk the horn or call them. Once you have everyone’s attention, get out of the car, and wave the signs, sing Happy Birthday and so forth.
As MommyPoppins.com notes, “Staying connected may take a little more ingenuity these days, but amidst all the uncertainty, prioritizing and spending time with friends and loved ones is what your kids (and you) will most likely remember from this period.”
Be creative in a no-pressure way and simply have fun together as a family!