Cabin fever definitely struck this winter. The snow all melted in late February and we reached nearly sixty degrees. We were enjoying some fun outside activities.
And then, winter decided it wasn’t quite over. Another huge snowstorm struck and the temperatures plummeted.
After the taste of being outside and playing in warmer weather, the kids didn’t appreciate the second winter. They just wanted to run on grass and not bundle up. It was a rough couple of weeks!
Thankfully spring always comes, even if you have to wait a bit longer for it. Now that the grass is once again showing, we’ve been back outside. The kids are spending hours out in the yard everyday. They’re even starting to pick outdoor activities for their games on their day.
We love playing together as a family. Here are five of our favorite outside activities. They’re all perfect for a variety of ages.
1. Red Light/Green Light
I use this game with all of my little ones to teach stop and go. But, it’s fun enough that the older kids still enjoy playing it. Especially if they get to be It!
One person (It) goes to one side of the yard. The others line up along the other end.
When It says, “Green Light”, everyone else moves forward quickly. When It says, “Red Light” everyone freezes. If It sees anyone moving when they’re supposed to be frozen, they have to go back to the starting line (unless they’re really small then we make them take ten steps backwards.)
The game continues until one of the players touches It on a green light. Then, someone else is It.
2. Building a Fort
Knowing how to use a variety of materials to build a shelter is an important skill. My kids all love working together to build a fort whenever we’re in the woods, and even in the yard.
Often when we’re cutting firewood, they’ll build nearby. Then when it’s time to move the wood they come and help. Once the wood is being cut again, they go back to their fort. They’ve created many interesting shelters over the years!
We’ve used hay and boards, tree branches and pine needles, and even brought out blankets to drape over the clothesline. Complicated and simple possibilities abound for making a fort.
No matter how we build it, the kids all love it. They’d stay in there all day if I let them. Eating a snack or a picnic lunch in the fort makes it even more special.
Here’s a fort the kids worked on for a couple of hours today. Jayme took the lead on it, and recruited many of her siblings to help. It was so neat to watch them dragging over sticks or branches to make the fort. They built it over a small dip in the ground, to help make it taller inside.
3. Walkie-Talkie Hide and Seek
We started playing this game last year, and it quickly became a favorite. You do need an adult (or a responsible teen) on each team though.
We divide the family into two teams. I try to make a nice mix of ages, and ensure the teams are fairly equal in terms of ages/abilities.
Each team gets a walkie talkie (that are on the same channel so the teams can communicate with each other.)
One team stays in the house, and the other team sets off. They find a good hiding spot within the assigned boundaries. Then, they use the walkie talkie to tell the other team they’re ready.
The finding team leaves the house and sets off seeking. They’re allowed to ask questions to the other team. Here are some of our favorites:
- What are three things you see right now?
- Did you cross the road to get to your hiding spot?
- Can you see the house?
- Do you see me?
- Can you hear the creek?
Using the answers to the questions, the finding team attempts to locate the hiding team. If they can’t figure it out, they can give up. Then the hiding team reveals their location.
Everyone rendezvous back at the house and then the other team goes to hide.
4. Scavenger Hunt
Who can find a red flower, three pine cones and a chicken feather first? No matter what environment you have outside, you can adapt a scavenger hunt for your location.
You can get fancy and create a printable for your kids, or just scribble it out on paper. An audible cue works too. Just shout out what everyone should find. Then when they bring it back to you give them the next item.
I like to make scavenger hunt activities about ten objects. This is a good number to not be discouraging to the little guys.
In this outside activity, everyone is an inventor.
First, we gather enough of several objects for each player. So we might find a piece of bailing twine for everyone, a leaf for everyone, etc.
We pile everything in the middle of an outside table. Everyone then takes one of each object. Each player might have a rock, a twig and a piece of twine at this point.
To invent the coolest item in the time limit. We’ve had twigs turned apple launchers; bows and arrows, teeter totters, and a toy cat swing set.
It’s amazing to see what creativity comes out.
Each player gets to decide what “extras” to use. In addition to the required items, I typically allow each player to select three of their own special items.
After the time limit runs out, it’s time for a show and tell session. Everyone gets to share their work. This is my favorite part. The kids get to explain what they made and how it works.
Change the rules to make it work for your family. Just decide on the rules at the beginning of each round. Then get to work. See what you can create!
The start of a broom? Or a fan? Maybe a fancy helmet decoration? Let your imagination be your guide.
What Outdoor Activities Does Your Family Enjoy?
I’d love to have you share in the comments below!
This post originally appeared on Maggie’s Milk on March 17, 2014. It’s been updated!