importance of outside play time

Magic Wishes for Preschool/Kindergarten: Kids Need More Nature Hikes

Kids need more nature hikes because…hiking time outdoors in nature changes our brains; it helps bodies, brains, and hearts for all ages, wee ones to grown ones.

Q. Just imagine after St. Patrick’s or April Fools, you were somehow left with one wish or a magic wand. A sort of realistic one, but your wish or magic had to be for children’s early programs, like a daycare, playschool, or kindergarten. What would you wish for? Recently, I asked several parents of young kids this question and here are their answers.


A. Jodie, mom of 2, also a chef. “More outdoor exploring.”

Science is saying the same thing: kids need more nature hikes. Some research, reported in the article “Doctors Explain How Hiking Actually Changes Our Brain,” by Alanna Kelter, gives powerful reasons. One of these is it can reduce the number of negative thoughts.

Have you ever had a song stuck in your hear, or someone’s words? When we hear criticism from a colleague, boss, family member, stranger, or even a friend sometimes we play it over and over and over in our minds. It can keep us from focussing on other issues and even interfere with our sleep. Kids can do that too. Bet you have heard your child ask for something every 3 seconds after you’ve said no. They have whatever it is they want stuck in their thoughts. It’s no fun to have mean words echoing in there. Hiking can greatly reduce them. Perhaps it’s because we eventually hear the voice of nature instead in birdsong, wind whispers, and other need more hiking time

Attention is a learned skill and for some, like those with ADHD, it’s a challenging issue. Hiking time can increase the ability to attend to something and decrease impulsive behaviors. This makes sense because when in nature, all our senses are attuned to the same channel. As our bodies slow down and release tension, we ease up on the reactions and have time to think and choose an action.

Besides hiking, kids need, as Jodie says, time for outdoor exploring. Nature is full of wonders, from tiny ants and other creatures, to sky-touching trees and massive mountains. As kids wonder, they also connect to nature and to their own inner selves.

Yes, for sure, kids need more nature time. Thank you, Jodie. Is this something you wish for too?

(Mrs. A explores the importance of outside play time and nature connections in her 1 2 3 Kindergarten School videos for parents and careviers.)

outside activities for kids

Doctor Writes Prescriptions for Kids: Go Outside and Play #2

Yesterday’s blog post shared from a Boston Globe article how some doctors are writing prescriptions for kids that say: Go Outside and Play! Some ways that kids can do just that are: going for a walk around the block, blowing and chasing bubbles, collecting nature items, playing hopscotch, and making an obstacle course in the yard. Playgrounds and parks are also great ways for kids to be active and spend time outside. Here are some more ideas that readers shared for fun physical activities.

  • outside activities for kidsTake a hike. Younger toddlers may not be able to go as far as older preschoolers but a hike can be a choice for the whole family. there’s the added advantage of all the nature fun and learning too.
  • Build a sand castle. This can also involve the whole family, or several families if there’s lots of sand. If there’s enough space, kids also like to throw rocks into the water, watch the ripples, and hear the kerplunks.
  • summer fun activities for kidsGo fly a kite. There are some simple kites that kids can make themselves with just a bit of adult help. Grownups fly really big ones!
  • Splash in the kiddie pool, run thru the sprinkler, or attach a pool noodle with holes to a garden hose. This is especially wonderful on a hot day.
  • Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ down a  big hill. Did Jack and Jill really have to go up the hill for water or was that just an excuse so they could tumble after?
  • When the sun goes down, kids can have a race with their shadows. Who wins or is it a tie?

These are a few more ways that kids can play outside. Outside play can involve more supervision but there are tremendous health and social benefits for all of us, especially kids. Are there some other outside play activities that you would like to suggest?

outside activities for kids

Doctor Writes Prescriptions for Kids: Go Outside and Play

Some smart pediatricians are writing prescriptions for kids with the orders: Go Outside and Play! Especially in summer weather this is so important for kids. In a recent Boston Globe article, Karen Weintraub, writes about the program Outdoors Rx. Kids today are simply not getting enough outside time, so doctors all over the country are prescribing more.

importance of outside time for kidsThe program is catching on and some kids are getting the message. Dr. Christina Scirica, a Harvard instructor, outlines some of the benefits of outside time, “The vitamin D your body makes from being exposed to sunlight builds strong bones, wards off infection, and helps kids with asthma breathe better. Having fun is also a great stress reliever and mood booster.” Adults are not the only ones to be affected by stress, kids are also impacted and anxiety is a major concern for preschool age children.

Some ways to spend outside time for young kids are:

  • a walk, run, wagon or bike ride around the block
  • blowing bubbles and chasing them around the yard
  • collecting leaves, twigs, berries, pine cones and other natural items to make a fairy soup
  • making a simple obstacle course in a safe, open area: a turned over chair can be a tunnel to crawl under; a pool noodle balanced between 2 sand pails can make a ‘log’ to jump over, draw a wiggly path with chalk, etc.
  • play hopscotch on the sidewalk
  • going to a neighborhood playground for swinging and sliding
  • kicking a big ball in the park

importance of outside time for kidsThese are a few ideas to get started enjoying some outside time. Once kids start spending time playing outside, even a few minutes each day, they often want to spend longer and longer. There are some added benefits for parents and caregivers too. What outside fun and games does your child like to play?

Play in the World’s Biggest Playground

Would your family be excited to know that all of you could play in the world’s biggest playground? You could even go today and invite your friends. It’s called “Outside in Nature.” For today’s play-of-the-day, I interviewed (by email) Jill Collins from the website On the Beaten Path. 1. Jill, your family spends time outside … Continue reading Play in the World’s Biggest Playground

Hearts Love Time in Nature

While scrolling thru all the inspirations yesterday, I saw this one that seemed perfect for today’s kindergarten readiness fun and learning play-of-the-day and explains why hearts love time in nature. “The earth’s magnetic resonances vibrate at the same frequency as human heart rhythms and brainwaves.” (Erik Bucci, A Change of Heart Changes Everything, When … Continue reading Hearts Love Time in Nature

Winter Outside Time Whatever the Weather

Not everywhere has winter weather for snow fun, but everywhere will be having weather. Playing outside supports the healthy development of both bodies and brains, and kindergarten readiness. There are countless funny stories about getting kids dressed to go outside and play in the winter time only to have them need to go to the … Continue reading Winter Outside Time Whatever the Weather