Despite living in rain city USA, I believe strongly in getting the kids outside as much as possible (also, the summers in Seattle are gorgeous).
So today I’ve asked Lea to stop by with her top 5 tips for getting your kids away from a screen and outside to play. (And added a few photos of my family because I just couldn’t resist.)
Playtime is serious business.
Just ask the American Council on Pediatrics. In their concerns about the effect of media on young minds, they encourage pediatricians to talk to parents about the importance of hands-on, unstructured and social play to build language, cognitive and social-emotional skills.
But between tablets, phones, video games, computers and televisions, how to you get your child away from screens and into the yard?
One piece of advice from pediatricians is to set media free times and places. Creating an interesting backyard environment is a great way to pull kids from screen time and into imagination land.
Try these five ways to create an enticing backyard at your home…
#1 – Go Old School
Fun activities that have been enjoyed through the decades are not old hat for your children.
Stop at the store for inexpensive goodies that delight kids outdoors. Stock up on bubbles, sidewalk chalk, jump ropes, pick-up-sticks and a ball and jacks set.
While you’re out, pick up some inexpensive sand pails, which are perfect for storing these kinds of small toys.
#2 – Incorporate Nature
Give your children more than one reason to go outside. Teach them ways to enjoy nature—a lifelong gift.
- Keep a birdbath filled with water and put out a bird feeder. Let children help maintain them and record the birds they see.
- Make simple birdfeeders with pinecones, peanut butter and birdseed to hang in the trees.
- Start flower seeds in small cups and transplant them to the garden as they grow.
- Plant bright flowers to attract hummingbirds and butterflies.
- Grow herbs, fruits or vegetables that the children will enjoy, such as mint to put in their lemonade or cherry tomatoes they can eat right off the vine.
#3 – Add a Playhouse or Treehouse
A child-sized structure is just the ticket to adventure. A playhouse isn’t just for playing house—although that is certainly one option. It is also a fort in the wilderness, a ship at sea, a wagon train or a cabin for camping in the woods or jungle.
Children only need a bit of encouragement to see new potential in their play. A backpack loaded with sandwiches and bottled water can start their camping adventure. Some pirate hats and a bounty of toy money start a day of treasure hunting.
Tip: Tie in your playhouse theme of the week to local library visit. Check out books about adventures at sea or life in the jungle. Library time is another great screen-free adventure.
#4 – Race the Day Away
A great day of fun begins when you teach your kids how to make an obstacle course. Pretty soon, they will have a great time challenging each other to try the course they created.
Weaving between cones to crawling through a tunnel of opened cardboard boxes, them doing a cartwheel and ending by dribbling a ball across the driveway is full of imagination and exercise.
Tip: On a hot day, add some water to your obstacle course. Racing through the sprinkler or underneath a hose as part of the course is a fun way to cool off.
#5 – Get Messy
Find a corner of the yard where it is just fine for the kids to be kids and play in the dirt. Turn a back corner of a flower bed into a construction zone. A few shovels and buckets to create roads and mountains for toy trucks and cars. Or, add a sandbox for building castles and pretend cooking.
If you want to get your child to play outdoors, seed their mind with ideas they can use outside, and then watch their interest grow.
Tip: All three of my kids have loved playing on this digger my youngest is sitting on above.
As a professional organizer and mom, Lea Schneider writes for The Home Depot about decluttering your home. She shares her expertise on organizing everything from kid’s study areas to outdoor toys and playhouses.
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