Since summer break began, you’ve probably heard “I’m bored” more times than you care to count. The days can feel extra long when everyone is home, but that’s just another reason why summer is one of the best times to play outside!
According to research from Sanford Health, “American children spend an average of just 4-7 minutes a day in unstructured outdoor play, compared to 7 or more HOURS in front of a screen.” Humans are instinctively drawn to their natural surroundings, but the desire has unfortunately been quieted due to the distraction of technology – adults and children alike. Some scientists are so concerned about this phenomenon they’ve begun calling it “nature deficit disorder.”
Much of the science around how technology affects children is still coming to light – but we know with certainty that outdoor play is very important for kids because it:
- Helps children become more physically healthy.
- Positively contributes to their cognitive, social, and emotional development.
- Improves their sensory skills (smell, sight, taste, touch, and sound).
- Increases their attention span.
Contributes to overall happiness and builds stronger immune systems.
In addition, there is developing research that suggests outdoor play can boost academic performance, improve sleep, reduce symptoms associated with ADHD, and even decrease a tendency toward bullying. Plus, when your child experiences nature with a parent or loved one, bonding, communication, and shared enjoyment are developed and strengthened. There’s no end to the outdoor adventures you and your child can enjoy this summer, even on rainy days – but here is a list of 20 to help get your wheels turning:
- Sidewalk chalk or paint.
- Water balloons.
- Nature scavenger hunts.
- Backyard obstacle courses.
- Hula hoop contests.
- Toss a baseball or frisbee.
- Count the number of volleys before a ball drops to the ground.
- Blow bubbles (or make them yourself with dish soap, water, and slotted spoons!).
- Make a cellphone movie.
- Paint rocks.
- Bury some small toys and let your child dig and find them.
- Ride bikes.
- Climb trees.
- Visit a local park, pool, or splash pad.
- Make a bird feeder out of household items.
- Wash the car.
- Go for a hike.
- Read outside.
- Find shapes in the clouds.