Getting Mucky Is Good For Your Kids!
Many of the activities those of us who grew up prior to the digital age took for granted, are now far from the norm and rarely so much as considered by children today. Collecting frogspawn, climbing trees and building dens are just some of the things that may bypass children altogether if the majority of their leisure time is constantly filled with screen time.
Research clearly indicates that children who spend in excess of four hours a day on screens are far more likely to experience depression, social difficulties and anxiety. Screen time is robbing them of the ability to bond and connect healthily with those around them. The physical and psychological benefits gained by spending a little more time outdoors are sadly passing many of today’s children by.
ENTICE THEM OUT TO PLAY…
It is easy to entice most children outdoors and with a little persuasion, even the reluctant ‘indoorsy’ types will join you too, soon enjoying the family time spent together. Spending quality time together in nature, with no plug sockets in sight gives us the opportunity to bond, play and create extra special memories with one another.
If you are stuck for ideas for things to do outside with the children, look at the list below for inspiration. No need to wait for the warmer months in the New Year; it is just as much fun to get outside in the fresh air during the Autumn and Winter, you just need to add more layers and get your wellies.
Planting things can be a great way to trigger an interest in the outdoors, but of course the results are not instant and therefore patience is required!
Sunflowers can be great fun for families to plant; you can compete to see who grows the tallest. Planting edible crops like tomatoes or fruit canes is highly educational and can encourage healthy eating.
Winter lettuce, certain varieties of peas or garlic are great choices for growing over the winter months. A small vegetable patch can be a great source of pride for a green-fingered child!
Chalk art on the walls and patios and pathways can keep children occupied for hours, creating huge pieces of temporary artwork. Alternatively, you could come up with some chalk-inspired games; draw chalk silhouettes of each other in different positions or play hopscotch.
Autumn is a great time to collect leaves for collages and leaf rubbings, or to find pinecones and create creatures and decorations with them, using paint, glitter and googly eyes. Allow the imagination to run wild!
Stargazing is a wonderful, calm activity to do with children of all ages and again it is educational! People tend to associate this activity with the summer months, when camping etc. However, the early nights over the winter months make it much easier for children with early bedtimes to get involved too.
Wrap up warm and get comfortable on loungers or thick blankets, make a big flask of delicious hot chocolate and see which constellations you can make out. If you are lucky, you might spot a shooting star…!
Keep an eye out in the media for any special astronomical events you can observe together.
Learning about the entire development of a frog from the frogspawn stage to tadpole then frog is a memorable learning experience and an activity that young children really enjoy. It is essential to take only a tiny amount of frogspawn from the pond and to take great care of it with the correct water, temperatures and food to ensure their survival.
Once they have grown legs it is time to return them to their natural habitat; (otherwise they will be unlikely to survive).
Learning how to skim a stone across a body of water and competing with your buddies to see who can bounce the stone the most times, is one of those deeply satisfying activities that entertains children from just a few years of age, right up to about 99 years! You are never too old to skim stones…
BUILD A DEN
Children love to build dens, it is a great activity for the whole family to get involved in together. With some shrewd construction skills, you can build some impressive and robust structures, with no tools whatsoever. You can build a den in your garden, local woodlands, or at certain National Trust properties. Just use whatever is to hand and see what you can achieve by working together.
Being connected to nature helps children to remain active and in shape and can improve their mental function and concentration significantly. But perhaps one of the greatest benefits of spending time with your children in nature is the improved bonds that are forged between you as you communicate and play.
Get out in the great outdoors this weekend and encourage your kids to get a bit mucky, have fun creating those lasting memories together.