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Guest blog: Outdoor activities ideas for children

Written by Fiona October 01 2012

I always welcome writers who are keen to encourage children to go outdoors a bit more. Being active outdoors is great for physical and mental well-being and many people could benefit from being outdoors a great deal more.

My guest writer is only too aware that television, video games and the home computer, pose big obstacles in the way for getting children to go outside and be physically active.

Benefits of outdoor activities for children

Taking part in outdoor activities and playing outside offers many benefits for the growing body, mind and spirit of a child.  Regular exercise is very important to a child’s proper muscle and bone development, as well as brain development and mental health. Playing organised games and sports or exploring nature is also a great opportunity for a child to bond with their peers and learn important skills, such as teamwork and sportsmanship. Finally, facing challenges while playing sports or games allows a child to take risks and enjoy the rewarding feeling of success when the activity is completed.

Outdoor activity ideas

Capture the Flag is an old game that never seems to become old fashioned. Encouraging team play and strategising, the game divides children into two teams, each with their own flag. The object of the game is to capture the flag of the other team.

Simple or more complex, an obstacle course is a fun way to encourage healthy competition. This activity also encourages teamwork and good sportsmanship, as children divide into teams and go one-by-one through the course.

Even small children will enjoy a scavenger hunt. Children are split up into teams and sent out with a list. The first team back with all items found is the winner.

Participating in outdoor activities is not always just about fun and games.  Some outdoor work, when approached in the right way, can be just as much fun for children as play and gives them the added bonus of accomplishment. Gardening, for example, is a great activity for children of any age.  Even the smallest children can help with the planting and watering while gathered around the garden table and chairs.

Similar to a scavenger hunt, geocaching utilises some modern technology in the form of a GPS system.  Items are buried and marked in plastic containers. Each container also includes a logbook in which those who have found the items record the find, their name and the date.  Parents can organise their own geocaching adventure for the children or can join in the global adventure with more experienced seekers.

Rainy-day activities

For the inevitable rainy day, there are many indoor activities that can keep the children busy and entertained while encouraging the use of the imagination and at least some physical activity.

Children can gather together blankets, pillows and other elements from around the house and construct an indoor fort. Building a fort indoors may also be the springboard to hours of imaginative and fun play.

Ideally, parents want to find something for the children to do on a rainy day, or any day for that matter, that exercises the mind and stimulates the imagination.  Sometimes, however, the best activity to give children to do is nothing.  Children do occasionally get bored and this is actually perfectly healthy, giving a child the opportunity to use their imagination.

 

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