6 Ways to encourage your children to play outside

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My fondest childhood memories involve scrabbling up trees, catching frogs in ponds, playing hide and seek in the forest and lying on the ground in a field where the crops were taller than I was.  If you share similar childhood memories then you won’t be able to deny that the lives of many of today’s children are a stark contrast.

For many of today’s children the 6 week summer holidays mean sinking deep into the sofa and keeping the curtain half drawn to prevent the glare of the sun ruining their view of the television.  Games consoles like the Playstation, Xbox and Gameboy have taken over many children’s lives, if they’re not on a console they’re watching TV, if they’re not watching TV they’re surfing the internet.  The age of computer games, the internet and on-demand TV is taking its toll on our children.

With obesity on the rise, it’s important to make sure that your children are finding a healthy balance between indoor and outdoor play.  Here are 6 fun activities to get your kids active outdoors and help them to explore the wonders that nature has to offer.

Grow flowers and vegetables – You don’t need a big garden to do this, you don’t even need a garden at all! If you have a garden give your children their own ‘patch’ to tend to, if you’re short of outdoor space then buy some plant pots or troughs for children to grow things in.  Take them on a trip to the garden centre and let them pick their own flower or vegetable seeds.    Help them to plant their seeds and water them daily and watch them grow.  Have a sunflower growing competition or grow fruit or vegetables that they can then help you to prepare for their dinner.

Help them identify wildlife – Buy a wildlife identification book and see how much wildlife from the book you and your kids can spot and tick them off when you’ve seen them.  Look for insects, wild flowers, birds and animals in the garden, or take your kids to the local nature reserve and see what you can spot there.

Let them make a ‘den’ in the garden – Kids love making their own little private ‘den’ area inside, so why not let them take this idea outdoors?  Let kids use whatever materials they can find outside to create and decorate their den.  If need be give them an old sheet to drape across a tree or bush to get them started and then see what improvements they can make with their own imaginations.

Outdoor games – Buy some fun outdoor games for kids to play in the garden.  Let them invite some friends over for an afternoon of outdoor games.  There are plenty of different ones to choose from including giant garden Jenga, garden skittles, giant Connect 4 and many more.  These are also great for keeping kids entertained outdoors if you’re hosting a barbeque.

Take them on day trips outdoors – Going on a family daytrip is a great way to get the whole family enjoying the outdoors together.  Fun outdoor daytrips could include trips to a farm, botanical gardens, beach, forest, nature reserve, fruit picking or to a play area.

Take them camping or let them camp in the garden – Camping is the ultimate outdoor experience!  A camping trip can be fun for the whole family, but the experience doesn’t have to end there! Let your kids invite their friends over and set up the tent in the back garden for an outdoor sleepover.

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