outside games

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?



Transportation Play Activities #3: Red, Yellow, Green Light Game

Usually we don’t have to encourage kids to move around and be active. For both moving and stopping, kids can play a Red, Yellow, Green Light game.

red yellow green light game for kidsThe rules of this game are very simple and easy to remember. They are like traffic lights. Red signals a stop, green means it’s okay to run around fast, and yellow is for going slow, just walking along. A big space like a backyard is great but it’s also possible to play this inside. Some houses have a hallway or other space where little kids can run but the green light time might need to be quite short.

Young kids may need a parent, caregiver, or an older child to call the color of the lights. If kids are old enough, they can play this game independently with friends. One person gets to call the color of the light and the other kids either stop, walk, or run.

Movement activities for kids are absolutely essential. They optimize the development of brains, not just muscles. Through physical stimulation and movement, millions of connections for thinking form in the brain.

This red, yellow, green light game adds another layer to play, combining movement and simple rules. Kids match their movement to the color of the traffic light. Even children that can barely talk know red lights mean stop and green means go.

red yellow green light game for kidsKids can include sound effects as they play and make screechy brake noises when they hear, “Red Light.” The “Green Light” call invites them to rev their motors and change gears as they run around. And if somebody is too slow for “Yellow Light” it’s okay to honk a horn. Keep some small pieces of paper handy to write a speeding ticket for kids that go too fast and don’t watch out for others.

Do you know what the traffic light said to the cars? “Don’t look. I’m changing.” Has your child played the red, yellow, green light game?

#18 Nature Follow The Leader Game

Games are effective for kids to play and learn and this one adds connecting to nature. For a play-of-the-day how about a nature follow the leader game? It’s easy to play, for any number of people of any age, practically anywhere, and provides lots of exercise too.

nature gamesTo play, find an area outside, such as park or a playground. One person can start off being the leader. Depending on where you play, you might be able to go over bridges, under swings and slides, across a grassy area, up and down hills, and around trees. Then switch to another person. Each leader gets to decide the route so even young kids can be the leader and go at their own pace while the rest follow.

For big spaces, the line can run, hop, skip, jump, crawl, and roll, likely getting grass stains on clothes in the process. Because this game can be played over and over, play clothes are advised because if knees don’t get grass stains the first time, they will surely pick them up later.

Look around for possibilities that aren’t obvious, like balancing along boards that divide areas. Often, these are right in the ground but if they are raised up, grownups or bigger kids can help the littler ones across.

nature gamesYou can sing along “This is the way we cross the bridge, cross the bridge, etc.” Change the words depending on what you are doing: This is the way we walk the path, walk the path…

Imagination can get some exercise too. Everyone can pretend they are robots following a leader robot, or dinosaurs, dragons, or whatever else kids can imagine. The park can be a frozen wasteland to get to the ice palace (just in case you need another idea to play Frozen) or one of the Lego worlds. Maybe everyone will be on a quest or rescue.

Not only are kids doing this outside, they are connecting to nature in a very playful way. Nature supports their activity and becomes a part of it, almost like another participant. Can you and your child go wild for nature with a nature follow the leader game?

(For the whole series of ‘go wild for nature’ check the play-of-the-day blog posts, starting with #1 on rewilding. )