Open the Door and Wave Goodbye! Practical Tips to Get Your Kids Outside, Part 3

As promised, folks, here is Part 3 (out of 4) of Let Grow’s series on how to make kids want to GO OUTSIDE and STAY OUTSIDE!

We were inspired by a dad who wanted some ideas for making his 5-year-old more independent and curious. Part 1 of the series is here, and Part 2 is here.

These tips come from you! Feel free to send us some more ideas, if you’ve got ’em! Just mail them to [email protected]

Now, go open that door and read on!

Empty containers are key.

A mom in North Carolina suggests:

Number one suggestion is a sandbox with old containers/things to pour and move the sand around (and a bit of water).

Other: A paintbrush with a bucket of water to paint the fence or the house. A magnifying glass and a basket and small sketchbook, pencil and chunky chalk to look/collect/record/draw. Maybe a wagon to roll around and fill with things or move things. And a doll or a couple characters she wants to accompany her outside.

…..Get a timer.

My mom said she started using a timer when I was about 3 to give me time out in our small fenced backyard, and I never wanted to go out, but then once I was out, I never wanted to come back in.

My mom said all her kids had time outside every day, rain or shine. As kids, my sister and I used to just hide in the bushes or make things out of whatever plants we found and wheel each other around in the wagon with a blanket over the passenger’s head to make the ride the most exciting.

Simple tools, simple chores.

Shira Ackerman suggests:

Have or let your kids:

•             choose and make their own snacks

•             do chores they can handle: setting table, putting away laundry…

•             give them some simple tools–bucket, shovel, rake, and let them play outside

•             play with the camera/i-movie on a phone or tablet

•             create a garage band

•             keep a sketch or writing journal

•             cook or bake together (even if they are not doing everything, there’s A LOT they can independently do)

•             make up a menu for a family meal

Take neighborhood walks together.

Kenny Felder writes:

Paradoxically, I think the first step is to take walks with her. Explore the neighborhood. What streets are safe to play on, and where should she absolutely not go yet at this age? Are there woods nearby that she can walk to? My point is: Show her around.

I say “paradoxically” because the goal is to get her to do these things without you, but the way to reach that goal is to do them together. (And of course, no matter how independent she gets, doing such things together is always wonderful!) Taking walks and exploring is a habit that not all kids develop on their own, but it can be cultivated.

…..Give kids wheels.

Teach her to ride a tricycle and then a bicycle. Buy her a scooter, or heelies if you can still find them. Scootering and heely-ing are way more fun than walking.

Lemonade stands–with  help in the setup, but without constant supervision!–are always awesome.

As for “Ideas and resources about age appropriate tablet/computer games.”

My heartfelt advice is, avoid them as much as humanly possible. Don’t let it become a constant companion, or even daily, and don’t use it as a catch-all response to “I’m bored.”

More to come!

Stay tuned for our last installment of how to get the kids to LOVE going outside. And please send pix and stories of what has worked for you! Just email us at [email protected] .