Playing outside used to be kids’ main form of entertainment. As a kid, I only went inside for food, water and much-needed sunblock.
These days, the explosion of personal cell phones, tablets and gaming devices means it’s harder to get your kids to play outside. And that’s unfortunate since playing outside gives children a chance to get physical activity and socialize with friends.
If you’re a parent, chances are you’re having a hard time peeling your kids away from TVs and touch screens. The next time your kids play the “there’s nothing to do outside” card, combat it with these ideas.
Good old-fashioned fun
Here are classic outdoor activities that most kids simply can’t turn down.
- Host a water balloon fight: Water balloons are a cheap and easy way to cool off under the sun and get everyone outside. Have your child invite some friends over with a change of clothes and a towel. If you’d rather not deal with a mess, letting them run through the sprinkler is an equally fun alternative.
- Create an obstacle course: On your mark, get set, go! See who can reach the swing set first after spinning around five times, hula hooping ten times and hopping over an outdoor cushion. The more creative you get, the more they’ll enjoy it.
- Camp out in the backyard: Pitch a tent under the stars. Get the whole family involved by having a cookout or outdoor fire beforehand. Just make sure to put it out before heading to bed!
Try an app or two
Having an especially hard time getting your kids to step away from their favorite devices? Fear not, because there are ways to use the enemy to get your kids to play outside. Try one of these tactics and they’ll soon be heading out the door.
- Catch 'em all with Pokemon Go: The popular new game allows players to digitally immerse themselves in the world of "pocket monsters" with just a smartphone. Since you have to actually move to find items, the kids'll be off the couch pronto. See how many Pokemon they can catch around the neighborhood, just remind them to be aware of their surroundings!
- Send them on a scavenger hunt: Give kids a list of items that can be found around the yard or, if they’re older, around the neighborhood. Instruct them to use their phones to take a picture of the item as proof they’ve found it.
- Go geocaching: Geocaching involves finding a collection of hidden items. Make one out of an old Tupperware container with your child and then pick a place to hide it. The Android and iOS compatible Geocaching app helps users find caches and keep track of ones they’ve already found. This is an excellent activity for the whole family to take part in.
- Do a little stargazing: There are numerous cell phone apps that help you identify constellations in the sky during different times of the year. Two that are compatible with both iOS and Android are Night Sky Light and Star Chart.
With a little creativity and a little planning, you really can get your kids to play outside this summer.