The weather outside is gorgeous! Long, sunny days, and late sunsets make for all day and late evening play opportunities. But you may find your kids inside and not taking advantage of the weather and opportunities for playing outside. Before you just banish them with no direction, stop and take stock at some factors that may contribute to the kiddos hovering indoors.
Do they have unlimited or generous access to media? Never mind if it is “educational”, electronic games such as Xbox, computer games, and game apps on phones all detract from opportunities for open ended creative play and truly valuable social play with other kids. Consider banning technology except for purposes of communicating with you.
Do they have a purpose? Many kids these days don’t have regular family chores or jobs to keep them busy. Having a healthy list of tasks to complete each week not only teaches kids to be contributors and not only consumers, but they tend to value play time more when held in contrast to work time.
Are they stuck for ideas for outside play after months of school, scheduled activities, and weather that drove them inside? Consider brainstorming lists of things to do so that when you hear the “Mooooom, I’m bored!” complaints, you have something to direct them to. One list can be for quick, local, and low planning activities; another list for longer excursions that need a lunch packed, transportation, and parental presence.
- Sidewalk chalk
- A tarp for slip’n slide
- Conduct a fundraising bake sale; choose a new recipe each week for fun, no-bake desserts for “cooking” that keeps the house cool, kids busy, and considering others.
- Park explorer kits stocked with magnifying glass, collection bag, small shovel, and a journal for recording.
- A fresh batch of books from the library and a fun summer reading chart for tracking progress
- Easels, poster paints, tarp, and paper for driveway artist in residence sessions.
- Pots, Seeds, and tools for planting a container garden.
- Lemonade mix and fresh lemons, folding table and poster board for creating lemonade stands.
- Large sheets of cardboard (from Costco or warehouse store) and duct tape for creating back yard playhouses and forts.
- Supplies for making sun catchers
- Frozen and fresh fruit for making fruit smoothies
Ideas for activities further out from your neighborhood:
- Bike rides to specific destinations such as a local lake, berry patch, library, or yogurt shop
- Weekly trips to the library to replenish books for summer reading
- Local petting zoos and farms
- Beach/lake day near by
- Local hikes, even urban hike opportunities abound when you know were to look. Check out WTA’s list of hikes within 30 minutes of Seattle.
- Gather with other families at a local U-pick farm for various berries in season. Return home to make berry cobblers with your haul!
You can see the opportunities are limitless. Although there is certainly value in the experiences themselves, the deeper significance is how your kids will learn to connect with nature, other kids, and build a lifetime of active, open ended, creative play. Just nudge them in the right direction and provide the necessary supplies and you will see your children grow and flourish.
Featured photo from here, labeled for reuse.