Outdoor activities good for everyone's mental health

Outdoor activities good for everyone’s mental health

By

These 25 outdoor activities will help you get by during times when playgrounds are closed, too far away or you prefer to be closer to home.

Outdoor play is particularly beneficial during times of anxiety, stress, and adversity: it provides a sense of control and independence; it helps children make sense of things they find hard to understand; it supports their coping and resilience.

Time spent playing outdoors is also thought to help relieve stress and anxiety by reducing levels of the hormone cortisol in the brain. A recent study in the UK found that even just five minutes of exercise in a natural outdoor environment can rapidly improve self-esteem and mental health and wellbeing in young people.

25 Outdoor activities for babies, toddlers, little kids and big kids

  • Let your kids plant a mini-garden. If they are in charge of it, then they will have to go outside to water, weed and watch over it.
  • Help your kids build a fort outside with a rope and an old sheet. Suggest other items that might be fun for them to use on their fort.
  • Go for regular walks, bike rides or runs as a family. Many urban communities have trails and bike paths through parks, riverways or lakefronts
  • Create an outdoor scavenger hunt where your kids collect items from nature.
  • Make a bucket list of different parks you want to try and visit.
  • Go on a bug hunt – give your kids a container and have them collect different kinds of bugs.
  • Turn your yard into an obstacle course. Use cones, sticks, a hula hoop, and other items from your garage or backyard to create fun obstacles.
  • Blow gigantic bubbles. Fill up a sheet pan with a bubble mixture and dip an over-sized wand to see who can blow the biggest bubble.
  • Play with water. Kids will jump at the chance to go outside and splash in water. There are lots of creative ways to do it: wash the car, water the garden, run through sprinklers, go down slip-n-slide, jump in a blow up pool, or build a water table.
  • Try a new sport. Sometimes a friendly game of dodge ball, whiffle ball, or soccer is a great way to get kids to enjoy playing outside.
  • Make Footpath Art. Give your kids a big bucket of chalk and let them go to town. Give them some ideas with printed photos, or even stencils to colour with.
  • Eat dinner on your porch, deck or in your backyard.
  • Use an outdoor toy rotation strategy. Kids are a lot more excited to play with toys they haven’t seen in a while or can’t access. Divide your outdoor toys into 3 bins, and have one big bucket of toys out at a time.
  • Make an outdoor activity jar. This helps with kids who have a hard time thinking of things to do or making decisions. Write different activities on popsicle sticks. Let your kids choose an activity and then head outside. Make the activities easy to act on – go to the park for 15 minutes, water the plants, set up a water shooting range, pick a dandelion bouquet, draw something with chalk.
  • Do your normal everyday activities outside. Do homework, eat meals, craft, read books, draw or play games all outside.
  • Outside art projects. If you are tired of your kid’s projects making a mess in your house, then bring them outside. A few fun ideas: a playdough picnic, where you let your kids make pretend food out of playdough. Nature art – collect leaves, flowers, sticks, seeds, and pine cones to make natural artwork. Outdoor painting – bring an easel and paint out to your backyard so your kids can enjoy painting nature scenes.
  • Stargaze, or look for shapes in clouds. Set up a blanket, binoculars or a telescope and enjoy the sky.
  • Clean up Litter. Kids can be surprisingly passionate about caring for mother nature (and proud of their efforts!) You can also make it a game: a mission to save the planet
  • Ride scooters, bikes or tricycles. Set up a mini race and compete on wheels.
  • Have your kids pull weeds. You can use rewards and it definitely gets them outside in the yard
  • Play Bug or Leaf Bingo. Find 10 different bugs or leaves and identify them.
  • Photograph nature. Let our kids borrow your phone camera and see how many different types of wildlife they can find and photograph.
  • Make a sensory play tub with sand, dinosaurs and rocks
  • Get some paintbrushes and paint masterpieces with water
  • Make some puppets and put on a puppet show, or create shadow puppets.

Open Play

Whatever you are doing outdoors with your toddler, don’t fill in time so tightly that you create stress. Toddlers have new-found ideas and physical abilities to explore. They are driven to explore. Sometimes just going outside together and looking around is enough to spark a deep need in a toddler to explore.

 


Archives
Translate »