I am a firm believer that being bored is good for little ones. There were hundreds of times as a child that I whined to my mother “Mooommm, I’m bored,” to which she promptly said, “Go play outside, use your imagination!” Although I hated it at the time, I always felt so much better when I’d had time outdoors doing backyard activities. Now that I’m a mother, I know that I will be instilling the same values into my own children.
Backyard activities prove a number of benefits for your children, as Harvard Health reports, there are six key reasons playing outside is good for your children. This includes exposure to sunshine and vitamin D that helps boost our immune systems, and at least one hour of exercise has been shown to boost moods, but more importantly, is also sure to wear your kids out too (hopefully this will also encourage a good nap or early bedtime!) Playing outside also aids in building executive functions which are skills that help us plan, prioritize, troubleshoot, negotiate, and multitask.
Taking risks can help to build confidence and encourage bravery. Then of course there is the socialization aspect, which helps you learn to work together as a family and boost those communication skills—not to mention the appreciation of nature. In my unprofessional opinion, the only way to truly help children appreciate nature is to make sure you expose them to it.
Often my husband and I line up our weekend like this; one activity out of the house and one at the house. This is typically spent outside in the California sunshine. With a full year of being at home, I’ve been able to round up some of my favorite backyard activities you can share with your family.
Ideas for Backyard Fun
Chalk. Chalk can provide hours of entertainment and also encourage free expression of art. You can create some activities based on age too such as hopscotch, foursquare. As your kids get older, you can teach them to tell a story through chalk storyboards.
Bubble dance party. This one is a hit with the toddler and baby crowd. We recently went to a birthday party and this provided 40 mins of nonstop entertainment.
Slip & slide, sprinklers, and water fun. Keep it simple and turn on the sprinklers. Every time I do this I have flashbacks of my childhood. You could even invest in a slip and slide or create a waterway with this cool wooden waterway set. Pro-tip: As a parent, I’m a big fan of Native and Birkenstocks Eva shoes for outdoor fun. They’re easy to spray off if they get muddy.
Outdoor movie night. I love nothing more than cuddling up with the kids and watching a movie. Lately, Moana has been on repeat. My husband and I just got our backyard dialed in and created a really nice space for lounging. Plus we can use the side of our home as a screen for our projector. This is a great way to end the day, wind down and spend some family time. You can also invite some friends over or even do a monthly viewing.
Camping in your own backyard. Camping provides endless ideas and fun for your family. Building a tent together proved an opportunity to work together to accomplish a task through communication and hard work. Make a meal on the grill and celebrate with some after. Don’t forget about storytime, bust out the flashlights and add animation to the mix with shadow puppets.
Obstacle course. This one hits those coordination, balance, and exercise tips from above. Use items you have around the house like a stool, ladder, or cones, or try some of these Montessori play pieces.
Gardening. Whether you’re planting a vegetable garden or sprucing up the yard, gardening gives everyone in the family a chance to get involved. Help your kids appreciate nature and the ecosystems hard at work, while also inspiring them to be lifelong lovers of nature. It also teaches patients as you nurture something to grow.
What are your favorite backyard activities? Share them with us below.