Much has been written about the reasons kids need to get outdoors to play, to get involved in nature, and away from the couch and big, bad, evils of TV and video screens. But what actually gets kids playing outdoors? Do kids need to go to nature camp, or plant an elaborate garden to be nature kids? Or is there something simpler for getting kids outside in nature, running, walking, climbing, learning and exploring?
Here are 10 tricks which got me playing outdoors when I was a kid, and maybe even still do. Shhhh… don’t tell. I’m a nature kid at heart.
#10 – Let’s Eat Outside
I simply can’t resist a picnic, even if it’s just a hunk of unsliced bread and a bottle of water. Mmmm… it just tastes better outside. Grab some food, ask me to come, I’m there!
#9 – There’s Treasure There
What could be more fun than finding something? I don’t care if it’s a new flower in bloom, a worm on the sidewalk, a sparkly rock, or a yellow or red, fall leaf. Let’s go find it!
#8 – Let’s Chuck It
Carrying and throwing suitably weighty items seems like fun to me. Invite me to toss rocks into a pond and watch the ripples, chuck logs around, or throw leaves in a stream/creek and watch them float away. Snowballs and a tree target are good too. My arm is ready!
#7 – Cooking in the Dirt
I have my matches and I’m ready to strike. As an adult I prefer a campfire to a mud pie, barbecue to leaf stew, but all were good when I was a kid. Nothing beats real, live flames. Show me how to build a campfire which starts first time, or let me mess around and learn for myself (with you nearby). We could build a rocket stove. Fire is so primitive, satisfying, and even safe (if proper precautions are taken). I have the matchbox here!
#6 – Something to Climb On
Here’s your shoes, let’s climb that rock. How do I get up there? How do I balance? I don’t want smooth plastic or metal. Give me something from nature, with nooks and crannies, texture, lichen even. I love rock walls, stream banks, tree trunks, grassy hills. I’m behind you.
#5 – I’ll Hide Behind
Critters like shelter, wood piles, bushy shrubs, giant prairie grasses, secret places. I do to. Hide and Seek is a favorite game. Clearings between shrubs make a den, or hide-out – much nicer than a custom-built playhouse. You might hear me, but I won’t see you.
#4 – See Water Sparkle
Sunshine and water are a winning combination. A watering can, a hose, a bucket, a bowl, an old basin or pan, cups, ladles, feet, hands, creeks, rivers, lakes, seas, oceans, boats, floats, fountains, waterfalls, I touch and watch them all.
#3 – Watch that Critter
What kind of critter is that? What does he eat? Where does he live? How fast can he climb, walk, crawl or run?
#2 – You Can’t Catch Me
Maybe I can run like the wind through that park, field or prairie, fly a kite, watch a bird soaring, find shapes in the clouds and wish I could touch them.
#1 – I Want to Be With You
Open the door and go outside. I want to be with you – I’ll follow. Who’s that special person I want to be with? Or am I the person others want to be with? Give me a choice – chores or outdoors. Suddenly I found my shoes!
What gets you outdoors? Do you potter in your garden, walk to school, watch the birds, hike, swim, forage, take care of the chickens, rake the leaves, or sit out on the deck for lunch?
What got you outdoors when you were a kid?
10 Tricks to Get Kids Outdoors is by Alison Kerr and originally appeared at Loving Nature’s Garden.
Guest Blogger Bio: Alison Kerr is a writer who is passionate about the Earth, nature, gardening, good food, and her family. You can read Alison’s work on Loving Nature’s Garden and follow her on Twitter @AlisonKerr.