You used to see children playing outside on overcrowded playing fields, playgrounds, and squares. The children didn’t care what the weather was like even with wind and less desirable weather they went out. Nowadays you hardly see the image of children playing on these squares, playing fields, and playgrounds. This is incredibly unfortunate! Believe me, every child enjoys being outside and playing outside. With so many stimuli indoors, some children just need that one extra push from us. Read more about how you can give this extra push!
Why is playing outside so important?
We are familiar with the fact that regular outdoor activities are important for people. Fresh air is of course also one of our basic needs! It is important for children that they move outside for at least an hour. This is important not only for the fresh air but also for many other reasons!
Being outside and exercising outside is good for health. Exercising outdoors prevents you from maintaining a healthy weight. The fresh air and daylight help with increasing concentration, de-stressing children, and is good for the eyes and building immunity.
️♂️ By climbing, clambering, falling, and getting up outside, the child becomes stronger and learns all kinds of motor skills to move better. As a result, the child will experience a growth in motor development.
Playing outside is good for social-emotional development. While playing outside, children encounter the following situations; dealing with conflicts, taking others into account, consulting with each other, applying the rules of the game, coming up with solutions together, and processing disappointment. Children learn from all these situations while playing outside and that makes the children more social!
While playing outside, children encounter many challenges. Think of; playing tag and you are it, a pool of water that you have to jump over, and moving the seat of the go-kart, otherwise, you won’t fit on it. When these challenges succeed, it gives the child confidence and the child will not shy away from it next time!
♀️ Children are exploring outside. Children will discover their own world. Outdoors, children are challenged and stimulated in their imagination and creativity.
A stimulated ” kick ” to play outside
It used to be the most normal thing in the world for children to go outside straight from school to play with other children from the neighborhood. Is it normal now to grab the screens directly? Children can be completely absorbed in their screens and really enjoy this. Very unfortunate, because playing outside is actually good for everything! So really try to let the children play outside for at least an hour. We adults too can do a number of things to encourage children to play outside;
- Lead by example. If you never go out, why should the child? Put on that coat, leave that phone at home, and go outside!
- Let the child play outside with indoor toys. Take that box of Legos outside. You will be surprised that this brings children to new ideas. Children can also enjoy the daylight and fresh air this way.
- Make clear agreements and rules with regard to screen use in advance.
- Make the backyard attractive and uncluttered, so that the child is encouraged to go outside. Set up a trampoline, let them play with water when the weather is nice, give them an assignment to make something with sidewalk chalk, and let them mess around with water and mud.
- Agree with the parents of the neighborhood children to go outside at the same time. In this way, the child comes into contact with the neighborhood children and it will be easier at a later age to independently visit these neighborhood children outside.
- Make sure you have enough outdoor play clothes. Outdoor play clothes should be warm in cold weather, allowed to get dirty, and should be comfortable.
- Let the child of the past come out in you and come up with those fun old-fashioned outdoor games. Think of; tag, hide and seek, skipping ropes.
Fun ideas for outdoor play!
Playing outside in winter ☃️
- Go make a nice snack for the birds such as; a fat ball or peanut garland. Take all materials outside and make them outdoors.
- During a walk, collect materials that you can craft with such as; pine cones, twigs, chestnuts, leaves, and stones. You can make a nice winter piece of this after walking.
- Set up a fire pit, start melting marshmallows, and, of course, eat them afterward.
- When it snows, create a work of art in the snow with watercolors.
- Blow bubbles when it’s freezing! The bubbles become ice bubbles, this looks beautiful!
Playing outside in the fall
- Go for a walk in the woods. Collect materials from the forest, and make a beautiful autumn table with all the collected materials.
- If it rains, get outside! Put on wellies and stomp in the puddles.
- Go looking for mushrooms! It is also very nice to see the mushrooms at the bottom with a mirror. Mushroom activities are organized throughout the Netherlands in October. More information about this on this website; https://www.ivn.nl/ouders-en-scharrelkids
- In autumn there are frequent strong winds. Take the homemade kite outside and try it out!
- Go for a walk with scavenger hunt assignments in an egg carton. In all the compartments of the egg carton you have to collect something like for example; a pine cone, acorns, a beech leaf, pine needles, a twig, a chestnut. There are many different examples on the internet.
Playing outside in the spring
- Decorate an empty pot into a flower vase and look for flowers in nature.
- Make your own herb garden from pots and sow the seeds in it. It is always an activity to take care of the herbs. When the herbs are fully grown, you can start cooking with them.
- Go to the petting zoo. There is also more and more life around spring.
- Find water and go catch frogspawn. The frogspawn slowly changes into fish, then it is time to release the fish together into the water.
- Instruct the children to draw streets with sidewalk chalk, with trees, houses, zebra crossings, and roundabouts. Then let them loose in their fantasy with cars and their homemade streets.
Playing outside in the summer ☀️
- The night before, put a container or bag with water and toys (for example; cars, animals, Lego blocks) in the freezer. The next day all the toys are stuck in the frozen water. Take the ice cube outside and let them work with a small wooden mallet to get the toys loose.
- Create works of art on the tiles with water and a brush.
- Set up a bath for the baby dolls. It’s time for the dolls to be washed. Give the children soap and a sponge and they can get started. This can also be done with toys that the child is interested in.
- Have fun with water and sand. Put down a bowl of water and a bowl of sand and let them muddle on. Nice to add pans, spoons, and baking tins.
- Place blank sheets on the floor and put toy animals on top. You can see the shadows of the toy animals appearing on the blank sheets through the bright sun, which they can now draw into a real drawing.