22 Ideas to Get You Outside & Playing With Your Kids

Hot List 15

cartwheelsHere's a scary statistic -- according to a recent study, about half of parents of preschool-age children say that they don't take their children outside to play on a daily basis. Less outdoor time means less physical exercise, and we wonder why our children are obese?

According to the study, highlighted in The New York Times, only 51 percent of parents said they take a child "for a walk or to play in yard, a park, or a playground" once a day. The stats were worse for girls rather than boys (parents of boys were 16 percent more likely to take them outside for play). While some of the children certainly get outdoor time at preschool or in daycare situations, it's sad to think of how little time parents are promoting the great outdoors.

The thought of being trapped inside with my toddler all day pretty much forces us outside most days. It's the best way for her and her brother to burn off energy, and there's a lot less cleanup than indoors. Barring any extreme weather, there's always something to do right outside your own door. Even if the activities you choose aren't super active ones, still the fresh air and open spaces will likely inspire more movement than being cooped up inside. If you're stuck for ideas as to what to do once you're out there, here are 22 to get you started:

1. Play hopscotch

2. Collect leaves/rocks/flowers

3. Plant a garden

4. Run through the sprinkler

5. Take a nature walk

6. Roll down a hill

7. Walk/skip/jump around the block as many times as you can

8. Blow bubbles

9. Build a fort

10. Have a scavenger hunt

11. Go bird watching

12. Do cartwheels

13. Have a picnic

14. Watch the clouds

15. Paint outside

16. Go fishing

17. Roller skate

18. Play kickball

19. Jump rope

20. Play Four Square

21. Take breakfast to the park on the way to school

22. Talk a walk before bed and count the stars

What are your favorite activities to do with your kids outside?


Image via frankpierson/Flickr

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Rhond... RhondaVeggie

If 51% said that they take their kids out daily then at least 50% of respondents were lying. Nobody takes their kid outside to play every single day. Kids get sick. Some days the weather is lousy. Some days you just don't have the time. Some times you have a big day outside and kids just want to veg the next day. I know if my son spends Saturday scaling a 4000'+ mountain with his dad he just wants to flop on Sunday. If I suggested going out and running around he'd throw the TV remote at my head.

Skyla... Skylar11-3-10

What about those of us in an appartment where most of the others don't pick up after their darned dogs? I really don't want my kid playing in dog crap!

mamab... mamabunny2010

My daughter has really bad spring allergies, thank you genetics, so unless I want to wipe off all the snot on her face every 5 minutes and watch her puffy red eyes swell up so that she can do what?...sit in the grass? We will be staying indoors. There is plenty to do in the house, in her playroom, painting, reading, playing with her bajillions of toys...sometimes I wish we could go outside but it's just not worth it. Granted, she's barely 2 years old, but for now there just isn't any reason to run outside EVERY day.

Mommy... Mommy9205

Man talk about your Debbie Downers.  I dont think they meant literally Every single day.  I take my kids outside everyday we can.  If its not bad weather or they arent sick we are outside.  We dont have cable or satellite so they dont watch much tv.  We have speant more time as a family and more time outside since having that shut off.  And just because you live in an apartment doesnt mean you cant go outside.  We lived in one for awhile.  We took our oldest son to the park along with our dogs.  You dont have to play right outside your door.  Go somewhere.  Just being outside for a little while is good for them.  They get Vitamin D from the sun.  Fresh air makes you feel better when you arent feeling so well.  Geeze people lighten up a little!

Torie Sutton

Lately it's been really wet but we try to be outside when we can. Most times I let tem run around in the yard or dig for worms and I drag a bean bag chair out onto the porch and read a good book for a while. We have a decent sized yard but since we dont have our mower the grass is pretty tall. They don't care though. We have a big porch in front and they ride their bikes on that or down the small hill beside our house. Just yesterday we had an Easter egg hunt. There are things to do even though we don't live in a neghborhood that's very good to walk around in and it's not really that close to a park.  I do know that as it continues to warm up we will spend more and more time outside. We love the outdoors and like to fish and camp and such but I agree, kids can't be outside every day. Mommy doesn't always feel like being outside...especially since right around our house we have a lot of bees. We do what we can though! 

Alison Duxbury-Shadwick

Well I won't be doing most of those most of the year unless I can get out of the crappy northwest. I hate getting wet, we go to the gym or the indoor pool, or the children's museum or whatever every day but I'm not going outside in the cold and wet, a miserable mommy does not make for a happy child. Our 3 days of summer I will probably go out every day but if it rains and it's cold, no chance.

Serena Shirley

Yesterday we went on her first hike. Just 1 mile, but that's a lot for a 3/almost 4 year old, considering only about a fourth of it was spent on my shoulders. Most days we either go to the park or play on her swingset in the backyard. This time of the year we spend most everyday in the pool. The only trouble is cold weather. If we spend too much time outside on really cold days, she gets sick, but we live in an old house and if all else fails we open all the doors and power walk laps around the house playing tag (with a no running rule) Thankfully, Georgia doesn't have too many terribly cold days.

nonmember avatar Jody

I'm glad we have a fenced in huge backyard… they can stay out there all day and play play play

nonmember avatar Spirited Mom

My 18 month old loves playing outside and we go outside for at least 30 minutes a day that it isn't raining after I get off work. On weekends I work in the garden as my son plays for hours.

I don't know what we would do if we didn't have a large yard for him to run in! Lol...

jayba... jaybacritter

I am a sahm and I take my boys out All the time we are out bike riding, playing at the park, doing water balloons, and sometimes just walking...ect. On a nice day we go out 3 out 4 time. My boys love being outdoors :)

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