According to the recent ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth, kids are challenged to find time to play outside. This summer, get the family outside and give the kids some fresh air. Here are some ideas:
1. Set a playground obstacle course: Nothing delights kids more than when parents join them on the swing set and slides. Make the playground work harder for you by prescribing a path through all the obstacles, balance beams, slides and tunnels. See who can get the best time and come up with the most creative courses. You’ll never look at a playground the same way again!
2. Geocaching – A modern day treasure hunt, geocaching’s growing community is sweeping the Internet. Geocachers use a GPS to find a designated set of coordinates where a box will be hiding. Inside the box is a logbook to sign and return for the next person to find. Google geocaching + your city to find hidden treasures near you.
3. Have a picnic or cookout – There’s no doubt about it, food tastes better outside. Pack something simple like sandwiches, fruit and granola bars, or go all out with a more gourmet menu. If you have access to a grill (some parks are equipped with charcoal hibachis) then you can bring along a pack of hotdogs to roast. Add a cool container of lemonade and your good to go.
4. Take a hike! Even if you don’t have a wooded park nearby, a walk to a city park is still a great way to appreciate the outdoors. Try to identify different flowers and trees and make it a total sensory experience. Looking for someplace new to explore? Visit www.naturevalley.ca and click on the park finder for green spaces near you.
5. Make a mini golf course – instead of hitting the links without the kids, here’s a creative backyard alternative to include them in your game. Start by setting a plastic cup on its side and see how many strokes it takes for you to sink a putt. Then make it a bit more interesting by adding edges (spare 2x4s are ideal, but a hose forms a good side), rocks and other obstacles. A windmill might be a bit excessive!
6. Go for a paddle – Funny coincidence, most cities and towns were founded near either a river or a lake. Are there boat rental facilities near you? Paddling a canoe, kayak or rowboat provides a whole new perspective on your hometown. Maybe even drop a line and see if you can catch anything.
7. Make time for a bike ride – If your wheels are collecting dust in the garage, today’s the day to drag them out, clean them off, pump up the tires and head out for a ride. Check the Internet for local bike only paths and trails so you can find a new place to explore.
8. Find a beach! Where’s the nearest beach to your home? Chances are it’s an easy day trip. Environmental Defence’s Blue Flag Beaches program can help you find beaches that are safe for swimming. If it’s too cold for a dip, try building a sandcastle or take turns burying each other in the sand.
9. Throw a ball around – It doesn’t matter if it’s a baseball, beachball, volleyball or football, but a simple game of catch is a wonderful bonding activity and a great way shoot the breeze. Easy for more than two players to join in, and other toys such as a whiffle ball or even badminton can ramp up the excitement or help level the playing field when everyone’s skill level may not match up.
10. Go stargazing – Ah, a perfect way to end the day. If you live in a particularly dense urban area with lots of light pollution, you might have to drive a bit out of town to really see the stars well. Download an app to make it easier to identify constellations if you’re not sure what you’re looking at. Venus appears brightest in the early summer as it heads back down towards the sun. Keep an eye out July 10 when Venus is at her brightest. Check out www.space.com for other night sky happenings.