Monday, March 17, 2014

5 Favorite Outside Activities

With spring here, the kids and I have once again been enjoying the great outdoors.  We love to play together as a family, and here are five super easy games that we enjoy.  You don't need any fancy equipment for these.  And they are appropriate for kids with a wide age span.

1.  Red Light/Green Light

I use this game with all of my little ones to teach stop and go.  One person (It) goes to one side of the yard.  The others line up along the other end.  When It says, "Green Light", everyone else moves forward quickly.  When It says, "Red Light" everyone freezes.  Continue until someone touches It.  Rotate who is It. 

2. Building a Fort 

We've used hay and boards, tree branches and pine needles, and even brought out blankets to drape over the clothesline.  Complicated and simple possibilities abound.

 No matter how we build it, the kids all love it.  They'd stay in there all day if I let them.  Eating a snack or a picnic lunch in the fort makes it even more special.

Here's the latest fort.  Jayme and I built this one during our special time a week or so ago.  It is still standing strong despite winds and rain.  We just used a tree branch that was dangling low the ground and started adding pine needles.  Some raking work cleaned out underneath and added some depth to the fort. 

3.  Hide & Seek Tag

A fun twist on both games that seems to level the playing field for multi-age participation.  One person is It.  It goes in the house (or to another designated area) and closes his or her eyes while counting to 20.  Everyone else runs and hides.

The goal is to make it to the flagpole (or another space) without being touched by It.  Hide as long as you want, and then start running for the base.

You can change it up a bit by requiring jumping or crawling to base and as It.

4.  Scavenger Hunt

Ellie is helping Sydney look for a green leaf.  Great way to practice colors and counting!
Who can find a red flower, three pine cones and a chicken feather first?  No matter what environment you have outside, you can adapt a scavenger hunt for your location.  You can get fancy and create a printable for your kids, or just scribble it out on paper.  An audible cue works too.

Get hunting!

5. Inventor

One of our favorites!  Everyone goes out and gathers four pieces of the same object.  Hay rope, twigs, firewood.  Whatever they can think of.  They just need enough for everyone who will be playing (for us four).

We pile everything in the middle of an outside table.  Everyone then takes one of each object.  Now you might have a rock, a twig and a piece of rope.

Your goal?  To invent the coolest thing in the time limit.  We've had twigs turned apple launchers; bows and arrows, teeter totters and a toy cat swing set.

It's amazing to see what creativity comes out.

You can decide what "extras" can be used.  We've allowed everyone to select three of their own special items.  We've set out extra rope, tape and containers before.  And we've stuck with the only use these items rule.

After the time limit runs out, have a show and tell session.  Everyone gets to share their work.  This is my favorite part.  The kids get to explain what they made and how it works.  

Make it work for your family.  Just decide on the rules at the beginning of each round.  Then get to work.  See what you can create!
The start of a broom?  Or a fan? Maybe a fancy helmet decoration?  Let your imagination be your guide. 

What outdoor games does your family enjoy?

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