Play Activities

New Year’s Resolution: Kids Need Time OUTDOORS Every Day

There are many great New Year’s resolutions, but a priority is kids need time outdoors every day. Try for at least 10 or 15 minutes, depending on weather. While this doesn’t sound like very much, it’s more than the average! Research has discovered kids these days only spend 4 to 7 minutes a day outside. Compare that to about 4 hours of watching tv or other screens. It’s almost unimaginable that we would need to make a new year’s resolution for kids to play outside. What a change in just one generation.

kids need time outdoors

To inspire some outside fun with your child, here are 10 suggestions:

1. The Walk: Going for a walk is pretty obvious, but it’s surprising how different it can be from one day to the next. Of course, getting young kids dressed for the weather can take more time than the walk, but it helps if mitts, boots, mud pants, and other items are all together in a basket by the door.

2. Get a Kick Outside: Kicking a ball can happen on grass or snow. Maybe tuck an extra pair of socks in a pocket. Sometimes when kids kick the ball, they also kick off their boot.

3. Hunt for Treasure: In some areas, the ground could be covered with snow, but there will still be treasures. Check around trees and bushes for sticks, pine cones, and small stones.

4. Follow the Leader: This is a fun game for all ages. When kids lead the line instead of adults, they like to splash in puddles and slide on the ice. Be prepared.

5. I Spy: Look around and take turns playing I Spy. Even if there’s no snow, clouds are also white.

6. Colored Snow: Make a rainbow in the snow with some squirt bottles and colored water. This might need a few pairs of mittens as well as several bottles of different colors.

7. Playgrounds: Swings and slides can be fun even in the winter. You might need to take along an old towel or rag to wipe off the slide. If the area at the end of the slide is quite icy, you may be able to break the ice or scrape some dirt over it so kids don’t keep sliding when the get to the end of the slide. Are there ropes to climb too?

8. Hopscotch: While this is harder to do in boots, as long as the ground isn’t too wet, kids can play hopscotch. Just hopping around is fun too.

9. Tag: For kids that are a little older, they can choose a tag game like Frozen Tag or Statues. Running around and chasing each other is always fun.

10. Shovel the Snow or Dig in the Dirt: A shovel is a fun toy for outside play. For kids that is.  Kids need time outdoors and so do grownups but adults don’t think of shoveling snow as fun.

kids need time outside

Kids will have their own ideas of ways to play outside. Could Kids Need Time OUTDOORS Every Day be one of your family’s resolutions and goals?



New Year’s Resolution Word #9: Kids Need IMAGINATION

Today’s new year resolution-of-the-day post combines two ‘i’ words, imagination and IQ, because kids need imagination. Thinking and feeling both use it. Here is a post from a few months ago, but imagination is so powerful, we can use the reminder.

While we don’t think of imagination as part of IQ, it is a powerful tool for the brain’s toolbox. Albert Einstein himself said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

parents as teachersWe think of imagination as an ingredient in fantasy, but it is just as important in reality. As parents and caregivers we ask kids to imagine all the time. For example when we say, “What could happen if you just run without looking?” we want the child to get a very clear image of the danger so the behavior doesn’t happen again.

When a child grabs a toy from another, we ask, “How would you feel if someone grabs from you?” To feel anothers distress takes imagination.  Empathy and safety aren’t the only things that need imagination, so do organization and planning. And building, and construction, and art, and the list goes on.

Did you know during play, the action is happening in the mind but bodies respond? Although we can’t see it, when children imagine they are flying, the arm muscles move. An elevator may only be pretend, but eyes go up. Just thinking about exercise can strengthen muscles.

Bodies and brains are linked. Imagining forms new pathways and connections in the brain. Here are a few doable and easy suggestions for building children’s imagination:imagination and boxes

  1. Read books, tell stories and nourish imagination in practically every word. Get creative and change the action or story line.
  2.  Sprinkle some magic dust into the everyday. The fork and spoon can have an adventure from the table to the dishwasher. The shirt in the laundry can “escape” and need to return to the basket. Is the bus going somewhere like the moon instead? The bathtub can be an ocean submarine. What does it see? Or maybe it’s a pirate ship.
  3. Old clothes are very useful for dress-up play.
  4. An empty box can be anything; after all, “It’s Not A Box.”

Kids aren’t the only ones that benefit from imaginative skills. More and more, companies need imaginative and creative people for new ideas and solutions. imagination

New Year’s resolutions are things we want to incorporate into our lives, many on a daily basis. Kids need imagination. Is it something you include in play every day for your child?



New Year Resolutions #8: H = Hands-on Play Activities

A New Year’s resolution word starting with the letter ‘H’ is easy; kids need hands-on play activities. Almost like they have brains in their fingers.

helping children develop creativity

When you look at a picture of the brain, it’s only the outline shape. What are too small to see, are the billions and trillions of brain connections. In a way, these are like tiny fingers stretching out in all directions. For kids, hands and fingers are a powerful connection with the world. Through their sense of touch, children take in information, explore, and interact with the world.

before kindergarten puzzle play

Hands-on play activities don’t need to be complicated. Toys like puzzles, blocks, construction sets, and cars and trucks do not require batteries, but do need hands. Set out some play-dough, paper, paints, or crayons for hands to create all kinds of art.

pi day fun for kids

From the time kids get dressed in the morning, until they cuddle a stuffie at bedtime, hands are busy. Little hands like to mix and stir as kids cook alongside adults. Finger foods combine both eating and touching. A few toys in some water in the sink or bathtub are the only ingredients for another recipe for hands-on fun and learning.

cooking with kids roll-ups

Hands, eyes, and ears coordinate as children interact with a book. Early books for young children often have different textures for fingers to feel or a puppet to animate the story.


Kids do not divide activities into work and play like grownups do. To a child, work can be as much fun as play and this also gives lots more hands-on opportunities. Involve kids in folding and putting away clean, dry laundry or helping in the kitchen. A duster or broom is like an extra-long hand. Hands can unload spoons from the dishwasher and put groceries away.

including kids in chores for learning and fun

Many children’s songs include actions, such as the Itsy Bitsy Spider, Hokey Pokey, and Wheels on the Bus. These start with the hands and get the whole body moving. Hands can clap or drum along or make up a new tune.

Christmas songs music for kids

We see evidence of children’s busy hands and fingers all over the house. But that’s not a surprise at all considering how much happens for them. Is there space and time in your child’s day to be hands-on?


P.S. There’s a whole section on hands-on learning in the course below. Each day’s blog has another play inspiration. Who can resist all the hands-on fun on Pinterest boards?

Dragon Dress-up Pretend Play: Imagination Helps with Reality

Imaginative play can help kids understand and cope with reality, so open up the tickle trunk—it’s time for some dragon dress-up pretend play. This play roars. A tickle trunk is just another name for the box, basket, old suitcase, or drawer that holds the collection of dress-up clothes and accessories. Halloween isn’t the only time … Continue reading Dragon Dress-up Pretend Play: Imagination Helps with Reality

The Story of the Last Playground

To kids, playgrounds are treasure, and the story of the last playground brings this message to our ears, our eyes, and our hearts. Children have been terribly affected by the war in Syria. Their schools and playgrounds have been bombed out of existence. The children are hungry, sick, and terrified. As they look around them, … Continue reading The Story of the Last Playground

Dragon Treasure Search Game: Warmer-Colder Clues

Dragons aren’t really into playing games but kids can play this dragon treasure search game and give clues warmer and colder for closer or farther away. Do you remember playing this game as a child? Pirates hide their treasure and at least make maps. Of course, dragons can’t write so they guard their treasure and … Continue reading Dragon Treasure Search Game: Warmer-Colder Clues

Dinovember Dragon Activities: Play Dough Dragons and Treasure

Since dragons are imaginary creatures—as far as we know, kids can create any kind of play dough dragons and play treasure with them too. Fiery breath is optional. Play dough is available pre-made and is reasonably priced. There are several different recipes for homemade play dough using basic ingredients that you likely already have at … Continue reading Dinovember Dragon Activities: Play Dough Dragons and Treasure

Wood-scraps Dragon Castle Craft – Recycled Treasure for Play

Some bits of wood made for a fun and exciting wood-scraps dragon castle craft. Along with some glue and paint, the kids created their own toys and fun. After adding some shelves in the garage, we had a few bits of wood left over. Instead of recycling them, I gathered them into a box and … Continue reading Wood-scraps Dragon Castle Craft – Recycled Treasure for Play

Dragon Play Activities: Imaginary Dragon Stories for Kids

Besides reading books about dragons, how about some imaginary dragon stories? Kids can make up their own dragon adventures tales or we can do it with them. Stories don’t always have to come from books. With a little bit of imagination, kids can tell a story too. Made-up stories can be about anything and happen … Continue reading Dragon Play Activities: Imaginary Dragon Stories for Kids

Blanket Forts for Kids and Dragons – AKA Blanket Caves

In the song Puff the Magic Dragon, Puff slinks into his cave where he feels safe, so for today’s play, how about blanket forts for kids and dragons? Note the box of colored paper is the fire. Another word for blanket fort is GORF, short for good ol’ reliable fort. Making one isn’t hard, although … Continue reading Blanket Forts for Kids and Dragons – AKA Blanket Caves