There are so many benefits to getting children to play outside. And with lockdown and the weather improving, it makes a lot of sense to get outdoors. The benefits are important for physical health, as well as mental health which are more important than ever at the moment. If you want to encourage children to get outdoors and get away from screens, then you need to have a space for them that is inviting and will really help them to want to be outside.
You don’t need to create a space that is going to cost a lot of money, you just need to have a few ideas about what works and what doesn’t. When you take the time to think about the space that you have outdoors and the outdoor play equipment that you have, no matter the size of the space, it will make the difference to how long children will want to play outside, and the extra benefits that they can gain.
Encourage active play
This might seem like quite an obvious thing to state for outdoor play, but having space to move around and be active is best. Using some equipment or toys that are going to encourage children to move and to be active, will benefit them with better health, as well as help their imaginative play. Space to play is important for mental health too.
You could choose a permanent fixture like a climbing frame or slide, but if you’re short on space, then something like skipping ropes, scooters, and hoops will all encourage children to be more active outdoors. You could always look to get something like stunt scooters and take them to a local park, if you’re limited with your own outdoor space. As long as they are safe and having fun when active, that is all that you can ask for.
Sensory and messy play
If you have the space, then having an area to have messy or sensory play, such as a mud kitchen or water table, will prove popular with all ages of children. These activities help to develop the brain as a result of the sensory processes, as these things activate all five of the senses. If you don’t have the space for a permanent fixture, then having trays or buckets that can be used outdoors will work well.
Creative play isn’t just about drawing or painting. Creative play can also refer to music, problem solving, as well as building and constructing. This could be something like music instruments outside (like wind chimes, for example), or a chalkboard wall. You can easily take out paints, water, easels, and cardboard boxes. They can all help to improve their imagination and help them to be more creative.
Using their imagination is something that is really important for children to learn and to develop in. The good news is that there are a range of things that can be done outdoors that can encourage imaginative play. You could create something like a fairy or gnome garden, as well as encourage play to make a pirate ship out of a climbing frame or imagine the slide is a princess tower. Forts, walls, rocket ships, and hideouts, can all be created in the mind of your children with a little play and a few little extras.
With something like a fairy garden, you could also grow herbs and encourage learning in that way too.