Rejoice, for summer is quickly approaching! (Depending on where in the world you are, of course.) The days are getting longer, the toddler T-shirts are back and the birds are chirping: what a great opportunity to spend some quality outdoor time with the kids. Wherever you go, don’t forget to bring sunscreen, hats and plenty of water!
#1: Drop the Ball
It’s hard to keep fit when the rain is forcing you to stay in all day, but that’s what spring and summer are for. This is the perfect time to get some much needed physical exercise outside. Take the kids mini-golfing or split into teams and have yourselves an exciting game of football.
If you’re feeling more adventurous and if the children are old enough, you can try a children-sized climbing wall or rent a couple of bicycles for the day. Add toddler seats so that the tiny ones can join the fun too. If it’s a special occasion, plan a more elaborate activity such as a treasure hunt – the kids can run around looking for clues and you can set up tasks and mini-games for them along the route.
#2: Life’s a Picnic
Nothing says ‘day off’ like eating outdoors. Pack some groceries and take the family to a nearby park, where the children can play games on the grass, enjoy the playground and pet a few friendly dogs. Use the opportunity to get messy: bring along some paint and paper and create art together.
Once the children have spent some energy and are ready for a more relaxed activity, prepare lunch together. The kids can help make the sandwiches and pour the drinks, or even help cut the salad if they’re old enough. After lunch, relax with your own outdoor mini-cinema: if you bring your tablet along, you can all watch animated videos for children together. Why not learn the alphabet while you digest your meal?
#3: Songs from the Wood
If you have a full free day to spare, plan a real outdoor adventure: a field trip. An outing to nature is both fun and educational. The whole family can enjoy the fresh air and a scenery which is usually absent in our day-to-day urban lives. Choose a trail that fits your family’s abilities. You can go for a walk in the woods, or find a trail that leads to a refreshing waterfall.
The great outdoors are a terrific setting in which to teach your children a little about ecology. For instance, try and name as many inhabitants of the woods as you can. Squirrels and birds are the easiest to recall, but what about all the tiny bugs that call the forest their home?
#4: Till the Cows Come Home
Another educational full-day option is to take the children to a local farm. There they can see up close some of the animals they usually only see on television or in books. Toddlers can benefit a lot from the very experience of spending time with animals, and the older kids you can teach about different species and their unique features.
You can also learn together about agriculture. How do fruit and vegetables grow? What is life like on a farm? After sundown you can enjoy an evening walk in the dark. Listen for unique nature sounds, find interesting things with a flashlight and see the moon and the stars much more clearly than you can in the city.
#5: Oh, Sandy Baby
A trip to the beach spells out fun for the whole family. Cool down in the water or grab a rest in the shade with some delicious fruit. If you bring the appropriate set of tools from home, your trip will easily upgrade into a full-on engineering adventure.
The younger members of the family can practice scooping sand and water and maybe even learn something about the weight and volume of different materials, while the older children can make seashell art and construct elaborate sandcastles. Use this opportunity to teach them about nature and geography: How deep is the sea? What can you find in it? What’s on the other side?