Kids Outdoors: Activities & Info
Help us get more kids outdoors more often!
The kids are back to school, and back to their usual routines. And, if you’re like most Aussie parents, often this routine involves time spent on mobile phones, iPad, other electronic devices, or in front of the TV – sometimes far too much!
Here, mum of two and Apex Camps outdoor recreation centre’s marketing manager, Heidi Ramberg, shares her top tips to get even the most avid digital kids to enjoy playing outside.
To enhance the quality of outdoor play, primary schools across Australia are moving away from more traditional, fixed school play facilities (such as monkey bars and slides) and embracing everyday equipment.
This includes loose, recycled or scrap parts (blocks for climbing/building, tunnels, pipes, crates, foam, rubber and plastic parts) and sports equipment (balls, bats, boards and hoops). The equipment can be transformed according to students’ play needs over time
Saying “Be Careful!” to children is probably one of the least helpful things we can say to them. First of all, it’s not specific enough. “Be Careful!” could mean “watch out for the poison ivy!” or “watch out the sky is falling!”. When you tell a child “Be Careful!” it usually doesn’t get the response you’re hoping for, either they’ll give you a look of confusion (“what’s there to be afraid of?”), ignore you (“this isn’t scary!”) or start crying (“something really bad is about to happen!”).
The other problem with saying “Be Careful!” is that it instills fear. It teaches kids that they should avoid taking risks, trying new things and making mistakes because bad things could happen, an yes bad things can happen, but kids need to engage in risky and challenging play for healthy growth and development.
What To Do and Say Instead
Breaking the Habit!
Imagine this scenario: Your child is climbing up a small tree and the slim branches are bowing under her weight. In a flash your brain calculate multiple scenarios, all of them end badly. Even though your child isn’t in immediate danger you want to call out “Be Careful!”, here’s what you can do instead:
STOP: Notice what you are about to say and tell your brain to “STOP!” or “PAUSE”.
BREATHE: Acknowledge how you feel and take a deep controlled breath.
REFLECT: Look at the situation with fresh eyes and ask yourself:
- What is the potential for serious harm?
- Why does this situation make me feel uncomfortable?
- What skills is my child learning right now?
RESPOND: There isn’t one right response for every situation. If your child is in danger by all means do act quickly! However, some situations might require you to do nothing and other situations might require you to help your child foster awareness or problem solve.
We all know children love to play in the water, and a further progression for them can be having fun on the water. The best way to do this is by teaching them Kayaking. From early ages, they can see the fun that can be had and the places they can explore.
Nature Sport Central
We are on a mission to encourage families to start their own journey of adventure after seeing how much our boys have grown in resilience, independence and responsibility.
Source: Sons of Adventure
Collections of fun physical activities for kids collated by Ohio University. While these are US resources most can readily be used in any setting, anywhere.
Information and activities all about the weather and weather related emergencies
The revised edition of the South East Queensland version of our Kids In National Parks booklet, now titled “Your Family’s Guide to Exploring Our National Parks”, has been published.
You can download a PDF from www.kidsinnationalparks.or
Places To Go
Nature Play QLD
Nature play spaces in Queensland – search by type, age group and proximity
Traditional Indigenous Games is a selection of games and activities from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander societies all around Australia. It provides an opportunity to learn about, appreciate and experience aspects of Indigenous culture.
While clearly a US based resource these scavenger hunt games can easily be adapted to suit any of the varied Australian types of terrain and environments.
Cool of the Wild
Making outdoors a habit can be easy if you know how. Here is a list of simple ideas to try, adapt and add to, and many of them you can do right in your own backyard. These groups and activities are suitable for kids of all ages, so join your children and get outdoors!
- Try a night walk. Bring a torch for fun and safety, but be sure to turn them off for listening to the nature sounds and stargazing.
- Go on a nature walk. Smell flowers or hug a tree. Look for animal footprints. Watch insects. But remember, soaking up the smells, sounds and sights is sufficient, and leave only footprints behind.
- Get outside. First, set up any outdoor space you have access to so that it’s inviting, and spend time outside with your child. A sandbox, wading pool, swing, climbing structure or garden will keep your child entertained for hours. But if permanent structures aren’t possible, think impermanent: A tablecloth teepee or a bucket of water with funnels and cups, or a shovel to dig a hole you can later refill.
- Plant a native tree. Together, take responsibility for your tree or shrub. Care for it, and you and your child will reap the satisfaction in the months and years to come.
- Grow a herb garden. This could be a window box, or be included in a vegetable patch if you have the outdoor space. Choose plants that your child will eat and enjoy, and especially those that develop before your eyes. For example, herbs are generally quick to mature, and bush tomatoes change colour as they grow.
- Take your camera out into the backyard, a nature strip or a nearby park, and photograph areas of nature where you think animals might live. Take pictures of trees, leaves and grasses and see if you can name the plants/animals when you get home. By printing them off and sticking them into a book, your child can create their own story.
- Go on an adventure bike ride. Remember all your cycling safety, and simply enjoy riding in the fresh air.
- Go on a picnic. Pencil in your diary or on the family calendar one day to venture out into nature. Encourage your children to help pack the food, and discuss where it has come from. You could picnic at your local park, beach, river or even just in the back garden.
- Set up a colouring in and painting table. Ask your child to draw or paint a number of environmental images, including trees, rivers, and animals. You can also use leaves that have fallen off trees as stamps, by painting them and pressing onto paper. If you can, doing this outside is perfect. See your child’s interpretation of nature.
- Lend a hand in the garden. If you do have a garden space, ask you child to assist with raking leaves and pulling weeds. Check out if you have a community garden in your local area by searching on Communitygarden.org.au.
- Take an indoor toy outdoors. Introduce your child’s favourite toy, game or book to nature.
- Create an obstacle course. This could be indoors or outdoors, and you could use trees to run around, a pile of leaves to jump over, a stick ladder on the lawn.
- Create a collection of nature objects. Try and collect one item each day. It could be as simple as a leaf or a stone. Use each object to tell a story – perhaps about where it came from and what or who it has come across before reaching your hand. Although make sure you don’t take anything from a National Park, or any animal’s homes.
- Visit a local look out, hill or mountain. See the world from a different view. Talk about how birds and animals see the world differently to us. Discuss what the world might look like for a magpie, and how it might seem for an ant. If it’s safe, roll down the hill – careful not to get too dizzy!
- Watch the sunrise or the sunset. Find a natural environment to watch the sunset. If you aren’t by the sea or a river, you could watch the sun rise or fall behind a tree in the local park.
- Make a grass trumpet. Pull a blade of grass (making sure it’s clean) and put it between your lips. Press your lips and blow out, trying to push the air out of your mouth. It will make a squeaky, trumpet-like sound kids will love and be fascinated by.
- Go camping. Set a date to go camping with your family. There are great options for hiring camping gear if you don’t have the resources (time/money/storage space) to own it.
- Look for shapes in the clouds. Sit down and create a story. As the clouds change, the story will evolve.
- Create a nature mystery bag. Find a box and put in a collection of nature objects, with different textures and shapes. Ask you child to guess what it is, and discuss where it’s come from. Next time they’re outside, ask them to collect some natural items (safely – or with the assistance of another adult), for them to create a mystery box for you.
- Start a nature journal. Ask your child to write down all their favourite things in nature. If there’s something they’ve learnt about, but haven’t seen, add it to the list and try and find a time and place to catch a glimpse or make a visit. Use this to reflect as well. How did they feel when they saw it? Where were they, and who were they with? What was the weather like? Keep adding to the list, and watch it grow and change.
Tree Day Planet Ark
As technology advances, kids are not spending as much time as they should be outdoors. Nowadays, children are choosing tablets over teeter-totters. Outdoor activities allow for mental, physical, and social stimulation.
These simple games are well liked by all kinds of kids, no matter what their different interests or abilities, and you can play them all without any special materials or equipment.
Is there a worse phrase in the world as “I’m bored?” f you are a parent, I am pretty confident that you have heard this more than once. And whilst camping offers a lot to do, sometimes children fail to notice what is around them and might need some guidance.
(If you are new to camping, take the time to read our 10 tips on camping with children.)
Go Camping Australia Blog
After dark games can work depending on the age of the children and your environment. Games like Tag or Hide-and-Seek in the Dark, may not be appropriate or safe where you are camping. We have tried to list mainly games that don’t mean you will have children scattered all over the campground.
Go Camping Australia Blog
There are numerous reasons why one should learn how to make a solar oven, whether they are going to be using one for camping/outdoor living, or conducting a science experiment, learning the dynamics of a solar oven are greatly beneficial.
Solar ovens afford many the opportunity to reduce their carbon footprint, minimize greenhouse gases, and learn about Newton’s Laws of Physics all in one creation.
Ten fun ways for parents to encourage children to experience the great outdoors
You know you want resilient kids, who can learn new skills, have fun and be in nature.
Then here are some great things to do with your child before they are 5 to start them on a path to ‘claim their childhood’ the way it can be.
1. Climb a tree
2. Build a cubby house
3. Sleep under the stars
4. Invent a game that lasts three days
5. Learn to swim
and 10 more …
Way of encouraging kids to get outdoors, get mucky, discover their wild side and most of all enjoy what Mother Nature has to offer!
If you’re looking for activities and games to enjoy in the great outdoors, there are literally hundreds of possibilities. Depending on the nature of the game, outdoor activities can provide simple enjoyment, promote physical fitness, or even stimulate learning. An activity which challenges the mind, as well as the body, while exposing kids to the natural benefits of fresh air and sunshine, is likely to have a positive impact on mood and behavior, as well.
Tag Games (PDF)
Scouting Games (PDF)
Whether the idea of taking your children out into nature fills you with a sense of excited anticipation or nervous dread, one thing is certain – today, more than ever, we are well aware of the benefits of childhood contact with nature.
Increasing the time Queensland children spend in unstructured play outdoors and in nature
Unlock the secrets of playing in Nature to GROW super healthy happy kids.
GROW with Nature Play is the practical play app featuring heaps of things-to-do, tips, hints, and all sorts of information about how and why playing in nature can benefit your baby.
Designed for children 0 – 3 years old, the important formative years of a child’s life, GROW with Nature Play allows parents to plan age appropriate play lists that can help GROW their child’s
The Ten Core Rights of a Child
1. The Right to affection, love and understanding
2. The Right to adequate nutrition and medical care
3. The Right to free medical care
4. The Right to full opportunity for play and recreation
5. The Right to a name and nationality
6. The Right to special care, if handicapped
7. The Right to be among the first to receive relief in times of disaster
8. The Right to be a useful member of society and to develop individual abilities
9. The Right to be brought up in a spirit of peace and universal brotherhood
10. The Right to enjoy these rights, regardless of race, color, sex, religion, national or social origin
Source: Based on the United Nations’ Declaration on the Rights of a Child
Links & Contacts
A big thank you from Ms. Kileys Class!
Hi friends at QORF,
I volunteer at a youth center with weekend activities program for kids. The kids came across this web page while looking for information about horses because we are going on a camping trip in a couple of weeks! We want to say thank you!
Two of the kids did some web searches at home together and found this page that they brought it for me to see about how to make a solar oven – http://thephysicscafe.com/resources/how-to-make-a-solar-oven. They were incredibly excited because we were talking about how to survive the outdoors without modern technology!
I suggested that they share this with you because it had good information about camping! Additionally, I want to impress upon them that by reaching out and simply asking others, things can be accomplished that the children might not otherwise think can.
Would you please add a link to the web page they found to your web page? They would be so proud to see that you did, even if it’s only for a little while. Your visitors may find it very interesting and I also don’t think it hurt that I promised the whole group a pizza day if you added it! Please let me know if you’d be willing so I can share the exciting news with them!
And we are happy to do so!
Thank you all, and especially the two young men who tracked down this information. Well done!
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