Did you know that every first Saturday of every month is National Play Outside Day? Created in 2011 to encourage families to get outside and get moving, this “holiday” is a great way to make playing outside feel like an occasion. There are no formal, scheduled events associated with National Play Outside Day, but you can make it an event each month with your family. All you have to do to celebrate is go outside and have fun.
We’ve written before about just how beneficial and long-lasting the impacts of outdoor play can be. Yet in recent decades, children have begun to stay indoors more, spending as few as 30 minutes outside playing each day, but six or more hours a day on screens, according to a BBC article. All troubling information given that outdoor play can help young minds and bodies stay healthy.
In the face of chillier weather and shorter days, TV, computers, tablets, phones, gadgets, and other indoor activities become even more alluring. Some days it takes a concerted effort to get kids outside. Putting National Play Outside Day on your calendar for the first Saturday of each month is a great way to make sure you have dedicated time set aside for fun outdoor activities. If your kids love it, they’ll look forward to it over and over again each month.
So what kinds of activities can your family do to celebrate that will make outdoor play feel like a special occasion? Here are a few ideas:
- Try a new biking path, let the kids help choose where to go, and then show them on a map how far you went.
- Go apple picking at a local farm — see how many different types of apples you can identify — then make your favorite apple recipe at home with what you picked.
- Hold a family HORSE tournament, and let the winner choose the dinner menu. Fun in the driveway often attracts other neighborhood kids. Before you know it, your kids will be making new friends around something other than a video game.
- Invite neighbors to join in on a block party with relay games. Who doesn’t love a party?
- Try out a different playground. It’s easy to go with what is familiar, but maybe the next town over has a playground that has different equipment, new slides, and new friends to meet!
- Take your dog to the park to play catch. Even he probably needs more exercise! Let the kids invent a new game for the dog, or check out these 10 fun games kids can play with dogs.
- Go on a nature walk and look for interesting plants and animals, or observe how the leaves are changing.
- Make an obstacle course in the yard using household items and then invite friends — or even the family dog — to give it a try!
You get the idea — anything outside counts! Getting the whole family outdoors helps make new memories, models an active lifestyle, and creates respect for the environment — all important things for kids to learn early on. Take the opportunity for kids to use their imaginations, your family to meet new friends, and for parents to feel young again and have an excuse to unplug.
Getting outside doesn’t have to cost a lot of money or require a long trip in the car. You can celebrate National Play Outside Day in your own backyard or driveway!
If you’re looking for inspiration on how to encourage play in your yard or neighborhood, stop by a Play N’ Learn showroom to check out our playsets, basketball hoops, and more.Tweet