From Climbing Trees To Hunting Culture: Free Family Activities That Are Plenty Of Fun

It's important to spend time together with family, but sometimes the fun activities you would like to do together are rather pricey. Here are some great free and fun family activities that have another perk- they're all in the great outdoors. 

Children today spend less time outdoors than previous generations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that children aged 8-18 are in front of a screen for an average of 7.5 hours for recreation and entertainment. The benefits of playing outside far outweigh the perceived risks that parents fear. Outdoor play supports and develops the physical, cognitive and emotional wellbeing of children, and is an economical form of recreation. Here are some free or low-cost activities that the whole family can enjoy outdoors.

Climb Trees

Humans have always been adept at climbing trees. Our ancestors needed to climb trees for food and for protection from predators and dangerous animals. In theory, it’s instinctive in humans, except that children who live in an urban environment may need to “re-learn” it. Parents, of course, still need to supervise, especially if it’s the child’s first time climbing a tree. Be there to provide assistance and support, and make sure they're dressed appropriately and don't attempt it if conditions are too wet. It will be much more helpful to children if they're allowed to figure out how to do it. Once they’ve figured out how to climb a tree, they’ll have a sense of accomplishment, and this will boost their self-confidence.

Create An Outdoor Play Area

The outdoor play area could be a sandbox, a treehouse, a tire swing, a mud kitchen, or simply a safe place where children can get dirty and make use of their senses and creativity. They can build sandcastles in the sandbox, or construct roads for toy cars; they can make a fort in the treehouse; and “cook and bake” in the mud kitchen. You can also create a toy obstacle course. Plan the course with your children using their toys as obstacles. Blowing bubbles is another great activity to do in the yard. You can use spatulas, fly swatters, or anything with holes. Make a bubble mixture and you’re ready to go.

Grow A Garden

Tending to a garden will still seem like play for children. Doing it as a family will give all members the benefits of improving their physical and mental health. If you don’t have a yard, you can use pots. A trellis leaned against a wall also works for edible vines. Gardening is a brilliant way for children to learn where food comes from, how long it takes for a certain plant to grow, and other scientific concepts. It will also be a practical tool to encourage children to develop healthy eating habits.

Take A Hike

Take a walk, but don’t just log in steps. Be mindful, and observe your surroundings. Children are naturally curious, and they will look and touch. Let them take their time with what catches their attention. They may want to watch a bee suck nectar from a flower at a safe distance, follow a butterfly, or jump in a puddle. You may also want to encourage your kids to start a collection of leaves, pine cones, rocks, or anything that interests them. This can spark their curiosity and make them want to learn more about it.

Go On A Hunt

This could be a scavenger hunt of things children can see in a park, such as leaves, rocks, dandelions or pebbles. Make a list, and see who can find each item first. For city dwellers, a culture hunt can make for an exciting outdoor adventure: visit local landmarks, parks or museums. Use a local map to search for places the family would like to see. Older children can be the guide and give directions. Walking to these places will make it even more of an adventure.

Playing outside is critical for a child’s physical, mental and emotional welfare. It’s also a source of varied learning opportunities that will serve children well. Make outdoor play an integral part of your children’s day-to-day schedule without spending a cent. It will spark their learning and spark priceless moments of joy for both you and your children.

What are your favorite things to do with your children outdoors?

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal

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