Spring has sprung! It’s time to open up those windows, do a little spring cleaning, and get outdoors! Sometimes it’s easier for our kids (and us) to stay snuggled up on the couch and put in Frozen for the 10th time of the day than get the kids motivated to go outside. After being indoors for so many months, we forget how great being outdoors can make us feel! Being outside reduces stress, provides a reset for our brains and gives us a healthy dose of Vitamin D. We have some great outdoor activities that will help your kids trade in the glow of the screen for the light of the sun!
Take a Nature Walk
Spring is a magical time of year. It is visibly the rebirth and regrowth of nature around us. Trees that may be budding one day might be in full bloom the next. We don’t notice how quickly this changes if we are stuck inside. Make a point of taking a daily family walk, or even get in some great one-on-one time with your child. Take the same route for a week or two or longer, bring a pad of paper and pencil or a camera, and document how nature looks one day to the next. What might be a neighbors front yard covered with brown leaves or snow one day might reveal budding tulips the next. Find specific trees to study and what changes you see from day-to-day. Does a warmer or colder day seem to affect the growth? Do you see more birds or animals? Can you spot any nests in trees while they are barer now, and are they as visible as the leaves grow? How many different flowers did you see? How many species of birds did you see? Taking time to slow down and observe teaches our kids to appreciate the magnificence of nature around them and an appreciation for caring for the Earth. Take advantage of walking trails, local parks, and zoos.
I understand that getting muddy is usually something we are asking our kids not to do. But I guarantee you will create a memory they will cherish if you take a day to encourage playing in the mud. Spring showers are a great time to explore and play in the rain and mud! (Please be mindful not to let children play outdoors if there are thunder and lightning). A short spring shower can provide the perfect consistency for mud pies! It’s not only fun to dig in the mud and get those muscles moving, but our kids might just come upon our squirmy pals, the Earthworm. Use this as a learning experience to discover more about Earthworms and how they help plants, trees, and flowers grow! SciShow Kids has a great kid-friendly video about Earthworms.
Grab your rain boots and umbrellas and go puddle jumping! What a fun way to get moving! Consider taking a quick walk around the neighborhood or park in the rain. Challenge your kids to see who can make the biggest splash or find the biggest puddle. Although you’ll have clothes to clean and dry when you get home, you’ll also have happy and tired kids! And what a good excuse for hot chocolate when you get home. Puddle jumping allows our kids to relate to their surroundings creatively and see things differently. Why is water pooling in one spot? Discuss why the water is flowing the direction it is. Remember, kids are constantly learning while playing, so science experiments during spring showers are great! Try collecting water to see how much rain fell or talking about the water cycle. Even if you don’t do experiments and just play, it’s great family time outdoors.
Fly A Kite
Did you know April is National Kite Flying month? Legacy Toys is anxiously awaiting a new shipment of fun and easy kites to put some spring in your step! Sitting at a desk all day for school promotes poor posture. When we’re flying a kite, we use our neck and shoulder muscles and get to stretch them out. Flying a kite is rewarding and relaxing. When we’re focusing on flying a kite, it melts away stress because we focus on one thing. Parks and ball fields are great for kite-flying adventures. Invite friends and neighbors to fly a kite with you or organize a kite-flying event in your neighborhood or town.
Dust-Off The Bikes
The bicycles have probably collected some dirt over the winter months. Get the family excited to do some garage spring cleaning by having a bike/car/truck/ wash. Grab a soapy bucket of suds and have the kids wash their bikes, toys stored in the garage or shed, or have them clean some of the play trucks too. Get the bikes geared up for some family adventures, or bike, blade, or skateboard to your local ice cream shop or coffee house for a treat during your ride. Get the kids’ friends or neighbors involved by having a neighborhood bike parade. Decorate your bike and helmet with streamers, balloons, daisy chains, and more. And bike parades aren’t just for cyclists; you can decorate wagons, scooters, and strollers. Get the whole family involved. Encourage your kids to design a flyer for the bike parade and distribute it to the neighboring mailboxes or porches. Adults and kids alike can participate in the bike parade by riding or cheering on from the sidelines.
The possibilities are endless with sidewalk chalk! It has to be the biggest bang for your buck, and guess what? Mother Nature takes care of the clean-up. The rain will take care of it all. Here is a list of some of our favorite ways to use sidewalk chalk:
- Sidewalk Notes- write positive messages on the sidewalk or driveway for passersby to read and be encouraged.
- Chalk it old school by making a hopscotch board
- Design an obstacle course for the kids to follow; each station has an activity like a jumping jack, hop four times, quack like a duck, or dance like a chicken.
- Play Pictionary, write words on paper pieces for one player to draw as the other players try to guess what they are drawing.
- Scavenger Hunt- use chalk to write and scavenger hunt on the sidewalk and let the kids loose. For example: Write, Find three small leaves and draw circles, squares, or triangles for them to put the leaves into
- Use stencils
- Make stained glass window sidewalk chalk art
- Bean Bag Toss using bean bags or a doubled sandwich bag filled with beans and toss into shapes drawn with chalk
- Draw a road for bikes, scooters, or ride-on toys, including stop signs, a gas station, and of course, a stop at your favorite toy store.
- Chalk tracing. Write numbers, letters, or shapes your child is learning in white chalk and have your child trace over them with colored chalk.
- Water paint. Use a paintbrush instead of colored chalk to trace or after your child has drawn a picture, have them use water and a paintbrush to go over the chalk and see what effect it has.
- Trace your child’s outline in chalk and have them complete the picture of themselves or you.
- Design a starting line with numbered lanes for some foot or ride-on races
- Make a huge checkerboard out of chalk and use different colored paper plates for the game pieces.
- Play follow the line from swirly to straight to squiggly. Try timed trials to see if their time gets better with each attempt.
- Design a flower with a letter or sight word inside. Fill up the watering can and have them water each flower as you call out for some letter or word recognition.
Family Theatre is excellent both indoors and out. String up a sheet in the backyard for a curtain. If you’re considering an evening performance, add some twinkle lights from your Christmas stash. You can decide as a family to write the script together or have the kids perform alone. For young or shy kids, they may feel more comfortable acting out their favorite movie scenes. Theatre is not all you can do. A family talent show would also be a great outdoor event. Consider having a wacky talent show where family members might show off their funniest talent, even if it is burping the alphabet.
The most important thing to remember as Spring comes to visit is just to get outside and enjoy it! The more we’re outdoors, the more we move, and the more we move, the healthier we are.