Outdoor Summer Activities for the Family

The school year is wrapping up and you are busy putting away the multitude of papers that came home with your child.  Now, you take a breath and wonder what will fill your summer days? Day camps? Family trips? Playdates with friends?  All are great chances to enjoy the summer months.

However, you also have those days when you are simply enjoying a day with just your kids.  What are some meaningful and fun activities that you can be working on?

Typically, (unless we have twins or triplets) our kids are a wide variety of ages. It can be difficult to create play that meets all of your children’s different play and developmental needs. Here, we are going to focus on a few examples of outdoor play that you can tweak to let all of your children enjoy it in a fun and meaningful way. Next article, we will look at some indoor activities you can use for a rainy or crazy hot day.

Hopscotch

Hopscotch is such a simple and easy game that can be varied based on the age of your children. All you need is some cement and a few pieces of chalk.

2-4 year olds – Simply challenge the children to walk the “course” and read off the numbers in each line. Can they go from 1 to 2 to 3 etc etc?  Or have an older sibling call out a number and see if the child can do a 2-footed jump to that square. 2 footed-jumps are a great gross motor skill to develop. Your preschool teacher will be so impressed in the future!

4-8 year olds – First, challenge these kids to be the ones to draw your hopscotch board. Can they judge what size to make the squares for proper jumping and landing. Can they draw the correct numbers in order?  How big do they want to make it? How high can they count? Next, they get to try out their own course.  Ask questions – do they think they made it the right size? Is it an easy course or a hard one?  What would they try different the next time? This is a great chance to get them practicing their writing and thinking creatively.

8-12 year olds – Even these big kids can have fun with a hopscotch board. Perhaps they would also like to design their own. Have them consider what shapes they want to use. The typical squares or maybe circles or diamonds.  Can they create a course that is good for a younger sibling or a really challenging course for their friends or a grown up?  Teach them the original hopscotch instructions of using a rock to skip certain numbers and the need to balance on one foot while picking up your rock on the return trip.

Ninja Warrior Course 

I don’t know about your family, but my family loved the tv show American Ninja Warrior and the idea of those types of physical challenges. We love to visit local playgrounds and create our own ninja warrior obstacle course.

2-4 year olds – Challenge them to walk across a low balance beam, run and touch different equipment in the park or lift them up to practice swinging on the monkey bars. This is a great chance to develop gross motor skills.

4-8 year olds – Create a more difficult course that includes balancing, climbing over and under equipment, going down the slide and going across the monkey bars. Consider timing them (teaching them they are only trying beat themselves if needed to prevent too much sibling rivalry) and see if they can better their time.

8-12 year olds – Have the kids design  their own course. What creative combination of obstacles can they invent?  Time them on their course and see if they can beat their last attempt.

Be prepared for other kids playing at the park to get excited about your fun. You might end of timing a few extra kids and your kids will have a chance to make a “park friend” for the day.

Nature Walk 

Going for a walk on a local trail or around your neighborhood can turn into an age-appropriate adventure with a little advanced planning. You can create a scavenger hunt list that is custom-made for each child. Some examples could include:

2-4 year olds – Select certain colors they need to spot; list simple nature objects like leaves and sticks or animals you are confident you will see like the neighbor dog, a squirrel or a bird.

4-8 year olds  – Raise the challenge level a little bit by combining some items. Now they need to find a Red Berry or a Green Leaf.  Ask them to spot a certain color car or a special type of bird.

8-12 year olds  – These guys will need to have the greatest challenge of them all.  Use some more challenging shapes they may need to find such as an octagon, diamond or circle.  Ask them to spot certain numbers that could possibly be found in a neighbors house number or a certain type of tree or flower.

Time with the family can be a great opportunity to create activities that can be enjoyed by every age group.  Have a great time this summer exploring the outdoors.

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