The Ultimate Guide to Bringing Play Outside
"Isn't nature great, Mom?" He doesn't even look up from his spot in the dirt while he waits for my response.
I murmer some noncommital affirmation, but truthfully I'm not sure. I like some nature. Mostly the beach, lake, paddle boarding variety.
This is embarrasing, but there it is. I'm allergic to flowers and grass and trees. Most animals terrify me and I thought I might have a heart attack living with all the huge Southern bugs in Mississippi. I don't mind camping, but only if it's brief and there is some way to shower.
Obviously, I am not really much of a nature girl.
For my little boy and girl, I will try.
They have shown me more than anyone else the wonders of outside. They find the beauty of outside daily and there is nowhere my son in particulary would rather be. From them and for them I have begun thinking differently about outside time.
This is even more true this time of year.
When the leaves start to turn golden and the air grows crisp against our cheeks, I find myself thinking of new excuses to linger outside in our little pockets of free time.
Time is always the issue, right? Finding the time for play and adventure can seem impossible.
Fall seems particularly short on time. The days get shorter and seem to flit away from us. New activities and schedules fill our calendars and hours. Halloween looms marking the beginning of an exciting but exhausting holiday season.
Still there is an excitement about a new season. I love the opportunities it brings for new play and adventure. Even though time seems elusive, if you are the right blend of planful and impulsive this season offers a lot of fun.
September and October are the perfect time to be outside. The warmth still lingers with glimpses of that perfect cool Fall air. The shorter daylight hours and whispers of Winter approaching also gives some urgency to the matter. And for a budding naturalist like my little guy, the changes that pop up every day are fascinating provcations.
As school and sports and activities pull us indoors more and more, I want us to all lean the other direction, so this month the PLAY calendar is full of ideas for outdoor play. Some of them can, of course, be done inside instead but I encourage you to soak in some extra sunshine and fresh air before Winter arrives.
To get you started, below are our top 10 ways to play outside.
I love bringing art supplies outside. I am immediately feel more relaxed about the impeding mess and the process seems bigger and more fun. I highly recommend trying it with a HUGE piece of paper.
Grab a soft, cozy blanket and a basket or stack of books and head outside. The cool breeze, birds chirping, snuggles, and some good books. This was one of our favorite backyard activites last year.
I'm a huge soccer fan - so I recommend giving these tips for teaching the basics of soccer to kids - but there are a lot of fun fall sports you can try with your child. With no planning at all you can grab a soccer ball to kick, baseball to throw, or even just a bouncy ball to pass back and forth.
Do you have a car full of rocks? Check the car seat pockets, side door pockets, and the floor under the backseat of my car and you will find rocks. My kids seem to acquire them at an alarming rate. I have accepted this and begun looking for creative ways to use all of these rocks. The one that we use the most is our number rocks. We have a collection of smooth rocks that I wrote numbers 1-10 on with a sharpie. We use these for a variety of math games both inside and out.
A pile of leaves? A puddle of water? Find one or the other and stomp. Simple, easy, and SO. MUCH. FUN. And yes, you are absolutely jumping in there too.
Yup, I said beach. I love the beach always - even the off season. Whether its the shore of a pond, lake or ocean head to the beach. Here are some ideas for how to play when you get there.
Riding bikes and scooters are great exercise for kids, but also a lot of fun. This was one of our favorite early morning activities in Mississippi. We would ride our bikes along the Reservoir as the sun came up. This is still one of my favorite ways to start a day.
This is so simple, but a new playground seems to ignite new play. Drive to the next town or neighborhood and play in a space you don't usually use.
I am not a naturalist and don't have an abundance of science knowledge - at least not enough to answer the detailed questions that my kids ask. This book, Treecology: 30 Activities and Observations for Exploring the World of Trees and Forest by Monica Russo, is saving me right now. The great thing about this book is that it's topic, trees, are near almost everyone. This detailed, hands on guide to learning about trees is the perfect tool for getting children to explore the natural world around them. When we moved from the South to New York City one of the things I was most concerned with was the lack of opportunities for my kids to spend time in nature. Even in a big city we have trees right outside our front door and with this book the ideas for exploring them seem limitless. Treecology is filled with beautiful photos, interesting information, and 30 hands on learning activities for young children to do with parents or teachers. Get ready to look at trees in a whole new way! Find Online
We try to make it to the Farmers' Market once a month. It might not seem playful, but it is fun. My kids love finding the perfect apple or pint of raspberries. We all enjoy a delicious cinnamon bun and then my kids play in the grassy area near the market.
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When I made our PLAY every day calendar this month I really thought about the available pockets of time. Our brief windows between soccer and gymnastics. Our walks to and from school. I placed shorter play ideas on those days. Things that could be done with just an hour or less. Keep It Simple is generally my motto.
I also threw in some longer adventures like a trip to the pumpkin farm on days when we had at least a full afternoon. These may need to get moved around to make sense of your schedule. There is some overlap, but if you want some additional adventure ideas check out the 13 Fall Family Adventures post.
Here's wishing you a fun Fall of play and adventure.
Below you can access a FREE printable with 365 Ways to Play. One for every day of the new year. These are simple ways to make little moments every day and even routines and chores more fun.
Obviously we aren't going to spend all day every day gleefully laughing and smiling, but I hope these ideas will help add more fun to your new year.
Subscribe below and I'll send you this FREE printable. Print it out and hang in up somewhere handy for those moments when you need a little inspiration, need help surviving a rainy day, or just want to put a smile back into a crabby day.
The areas in this collection of play ideas include;
*Simple things to add to your playroom or play space
*Quick prep, minimal materials activities
*Short ways to interact playfully with your child
*Fun ways to play on the go
*Subscribe to the Bambini Newsletter (If you're already a subscriber - the printable is on its way to you now)
*Print out the FREE 365 Ways to Play
*Keep it handy for whenever you want play inspiration
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