Today’s kids spend too much time indoors, either watching TV or playing with their electronic devices. They’re not getting enough exercise, and they’re not learning how to spend quiet, contemplative moments in nature. So if you’re looking for ways to get your kids out into nature more often, here are seven ways to use the countryside as your playground.
#1: Try outdoor playouts
There’s something magical about moving in nature, especially if the activities are completely unstructured. It’s time to get outside and explore the authentic potential of the great outdoors as an outdoor gym – hopping over small river creeks, using fallen trees as an imaginary obstacle course, or just racing each other from hill to hill can be an exhilarating, and exhausting, experience.
#2: Go on micro-adventures
Part of getting out into nature is tapping into the natural curiosity of children. So engage them on little “micro-adventures” in the countryside – like going on a fishing trip to the local creek bed or exploring a part of the forest that you’ve never been to before. They can even dress up like their favourite cartoon characters to make it especially adventurous.
#3: Take bike rides in nature
There’s nothing better than getting out in nature and feeling the warmth of the sun and a gentle breeze. Going for a bicycle ride, especially in an area that’s largely unpopulated and filled with rolling hills, is a real treat for kids.
#4: Go on scavenger hunts
A traditional scavenger hunt is a great way to engage the natural curiosity of kids – and also a way to teach them about the remarkable variety of nature. Ask them to pick up new leaves that they see, or to find specific types of rocks. Kids love taking these articles and collecting them. Later, you can use a magnifying glass to see the real “hidden” features of these items.
#5: Embrace the seasons
Too many people take time off from nature during the winter – but that’s when the fun is just getting started! Bundle up, put on a scarf, and head out into the snow. Kids love ice skating on a frozen pond or sledging down hills. It’s a great way to spend the afternoon. Then come back home and have something nice and warm.
#6: Take a hike in the woods
Going for a hike is a great way to reconnect with nature. You’ll have plenty of time to stop and observe things around you or to experiment with new hiking trails that you’ve never used before. It’s also an excellent way to have conversations with your kids, and find out what’s on their minds.
#7: Enjoy quiet moments of contemplation
Children need to learn how to have moments of quiet contemplation. They need to learn what it feels like to commune with nature. So have your kids just sit and observe a tree, to see who comes and who leaves. Or have them check out a quiet creek bed to see how different types of fish move and dart below the surface.
By using the countryside as your playground, you’ll get back in touch with nature and help your kids learn to understand the mystery of life all around us. And, best of all, when completely unstructured, letting kids explore the world at their own pace.
Darryl Edwards, is a Natural Lifestyle Educator and creator of the Primal Play Method™. Darryl developed the Primal Play methodology to inspire others to make activity fun while getting healthier, fitter and stronger in the process. Darryl is the author of several award-winning books including Paleo Fitness and Paleo from A to Z. Find him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Click here to download your FREE ebook on The Importance of Play.