When it comes to outdoor activities, my kids are often opposites. One is a timid rule-follower whose day could be ruined with a skinned knee or the smallest tumble outside. My second kid is a bit of a wild child adventurer. She mastered her scooter skills the same summer as her older sister. Her most common catchphrase is “I’m OK!” and doesn’t like to cover a boo-boo with a Band-Aid, even if it’s princess-themed.
It’s easy to get my youngest outside, but my older daughter often needs a little coaxing. Since we live in the Midwest, we have the added pressure of trying to enjoy the warm weather as much as possible. Even when it hits 90 degrees, I try to remind myself of last year’s January blizzard and the multiple snow days. Any Midwesterner knows the seasons will change before we have a chance to say “it’s too hot,” so we have to get outdoors while we can. If you’re like me and have a child that prefers the comfort of home, here are some ways to get your kids outside this summer.
Collect Finds on a Nature Walk
Grab a bag for each child and let them collect finds on a nature walk or nature hike. You can walk around the neighborhood or head off-the-beaten-path for even more exploration. To continue the fun when you get home, make artwork inspired by nature with their newfound goodies.
Explore a New Playground
Sometimes kids just need a change of scenery to make getting outside more exciting. Google parks in your area or schools once summer break begins, and have fun heading out to explore a new play structure.
Just Add Water
The sprinkler, a water table, a kiddie pool, the slip-n-slide, even just watering the flowers or playing with the hose have kept my kids busy for hours in the summer. Get your kids’ swimsuits on – or if they’re babies, sometimes all they need is a diaper – slather on the kid-safe sunscreen and watch them get wet and wild.
Have a Picnic
Pack a lunch or snacks for a backyard picnic or head to a nearby park with a blanket and a picnic basket for an outdoor meal. Especially for those of us with picky-eaters, a new dining venue can make mealtime more enjoyable for all.
Build a Fairy Garden
I have to give my own daughter and her friends credit for this idea. Last summer, I made my oldest play outside with the neighborhood kids one afternoon (I didn’t want even more kids in my house). I checked on them a little while later and they had gathered flowers, sticks, and leaves to each build their own fairy houses. It was adorable and creative, no Pinterest hacks needed.
Make an Obstacle Course
Bring out the tunnel from your playroom, draw a hopscotch on the driveway, find something for them to jump over and climb under, make a basket in the basketball hoop, etc. Make it even more exciting by using your phone to time them to see who can beat the buzzer or have the fastest time through the course.
Have Outdoor Storytime
So you have a kid that’d prefer reading a book inside? Get some outdoor-themed books, like Going on a Bear Hunt, a blanket, maybe even a pillow, and take storytime outside. Some libraries and bookstores offer outdoor storytime in the summertime. Our library’s outdoor storytime even includes a sing-along and dance-along portion.
Reward Them With a Treat
One way I’ll get my indoor kid outside is with the promise of a treat at the end of a bike-ride or scooter-ride to one of our favorite ice cream spots. I know bribery isn’t necessarily the best tactic, but if it works to get them outside, hey, it works!