What parent hasn’t heard that ageless, irritating kid complaint: “I’m boooored!”?
Well, it’s summertime, and now your kids have no excuse for their ennui. Your family may have plans to hit the road or head to the pool, but you don’t necessarily have to go that far to distract the young’uns. Summer brings with it dozens of outdoor activity options that will capture your kids’ attention and keep them entertained all day long, right in your own back yard. And the best part is that many of them can be carried out without your supervision!
There are reasons besides your own sanity to keep your kids outside while the weather’s nice. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, 8 to 10-year-olds spend, on average, eight hours in front of a screen every day. This sedentary lifestyle is partly to blame for the obesity epidemic among today’s youth. Too much media consumption has also been linked to attention problems and even, frighteningly, lower brain volume. (Yes, that’s exactly what it sounds like — excess screen time may be shrinking young brains. Scary, huh?)
So FastMed Urgent Care urges you to keep your kids healthy and get them outside. You may have to get the ball rolling (sometimes literally!) to keep your youngest family members out from underfoot, but it’s worth it. The next time you hear any hint of whining, encourage your kids to head outside with one of these classic summer activities in mind. Get them started!
These kids classics are great for groups, and once you get the game going, you can retire back to your kitchen for some iced tea and a little peace and quiet!
Hide and Go Seek
This is perhaps the most famous child’s game of all time. It’s very simple: one person, who is designated “It,” closes his or her eyes, shouts “Hide and go seek!” and counts to ten. Poof! Everyone else scatters and finds a hiding place. The first person found by the “It” player is the next one to count and conduct the search. The great thing about this choice is that any number of children, starting with two, can play it. Send the siblings or the whole neighborhood out to play, and they’ll have the same amount of fun.
This one’s a crowd favorite. Children form two lines, standing around 10 feet across from each other, and link hands. A child from one group chooses a victim and shouts, “Red Rover, Red Rover, send [insert name of the child in question] right over!” The chosen one then runs as fast as he or she can toward the opposing team and tries to break their chain. If it works, his or her team gets a point.
Make sure to encourage teams to position themselves far enough away from each other that the kids get up enough speed to have a fighting chance!
The bigger the group for this game, the better. An “It” player is designated to chase other children and try to tag them. If the “It” child tags someone, he or she is “frozen” and can’t move until another child performs some action — usually re-tagging — that thaws the frozen player. The objective? “It” must tag everyone on the field, freezing all of them and winning the game. This choice is a double-win for parents; it can entertain a group of children for hours, and it also keeps them running, exhausting them enough to go down at the end of the evening without (too much) complaint!
Capture the Flag
Again, this is a game meant for a large group. It has slightly more complicated rules, and may be better for older players — five-year-olds will find themselves outgunned.
A playing area, preferably a large yard or field, is cut in half. You can either trust the kids to make their own call on whether they’ve crossed the line, physically draw a line with chalk if they’re playing on a hard surface, or mark it with some object at either side of the field. Two teams are formed, each with a “flag” (which can be any designated object) at the back of their side of the field. The objective is for one member of the team to get the other team’s flag — and make it all the way back to his or her side! The runner is “out” if any member of the opposing team tags him or her, and has to wait on the sidelines for the rest of the game.
Although these ideas take a bit more setup, you’ll be amazed at just how long your kids will spend enthralled.
Running through the Sprinklers
This one requires, of course, a hose and a sprinkler, which you can acquire for very little money at your local hardware store. It’s most easily played if you’ve got a freestanding home, but many apartment buildings will have a hose hookup somewhere outside, as well. The idea is simple: put the kids in bathing suits, set up the hose, attach the sprinkler, turn on the water, and sit back and watch the fun.
Slip ‘n Slides
While there are many slip ‘n slides for sale, you can make your own with another trip to the hardware store. You need a good length of industrial plastic sheeting — 30 feet or so will do the trick, but the longer the better — a hose, a bottle of dish soap, and a long grassy area on a hill. Unroll the plastic, soak it with water and dish soap to make it slippery, and send the kids on a short trip down a long hill. Trust us, they’ll love it!
Catching Lightning Bugs
Perhaps the most nostalgic of all summer activities, lightning bug collection doesn’t just absorb the kids — it will make you remember the magic of childhood. You’ll need a lidded jar with holes punched in the top, and if you want to get fancy, a little mini-habitat inside — maybe some grass or a few twigs. Wait until dusk, watch for the delicate winking lights to start their show, and get to chasing. One note: unless you want to explain some adult concepts to your kids a bit early, be sure to let the little bugs go while they can still fly away. Some things simply aren’t meant to be kept.
Remember: while they’re outside in the sun, it’s important to monitor the kiddos for signs of heat exhaustion or dehydration and feed them healthy foods that will replace their lost calories. If they run into a patch of poison ivy or contract a strange rash after a day outdoors, or if that slip ‘n slide goes awry, your local FastMed can check things out and get them back out to play — and back out of your hair — in no time!