I'm a toss-the-kids-out-the-door kind of parent.
Children (along with teens and adults for that matter) just don't get enough time outside these days. I can remember enjoying some wonderfully long days climbing trees, skating, creating, digging & exploring when I was a kid.
But I grew up with siblings and neighbors that were all close in age. My daughter doesn't have the luxury of playmates knocking at her door.
So lately I've been looking for ways to entice her to spend more time outside. Since she really enjoys crafts and also likes to be surprised, we decided to create an Outdoor Activity Jar.
To create these beauties, all you'll need is a handful of decent size rocks and some permanent markers or paint markers. We chose these Sharpie Paint Markers (affiliate link included so you can learn more about them) for their bright colors and ease of use -- they really show up beautifully on the dark gray and brown shades of the rocks.
First, make a list of all the fun things that the kids can do when their outdoors. This will vary for each family but I thought I would share a number of the ideas we have on our list:
- Play hopscotch
- Draw with chalk
- Ride a bike
- Read a book
- Hunt for butterflies
- Put on a play
- Jump rope
- Observe the wildlife (squirrels, bunnies)
- Go for a walk
- Write in your nature journal
- Head out on a bug hunt
- Climb a tree
- Gather nature items for crafts
- Build a fort
- Paint a picture
- Play with the dog
- Throw a frisbee
- Practice violin outside (always fun to mix things up)
- Play bocce or another backyard game
- Do some gardening
- Feed the ducks
- Paint the house (with water & brushes)
Here's a few more ideas for your rocks:
- Build in the sandbox
- Play at the water table
- Make mud pies
- Go scootering
- Do an obstacle course
- Walk on homemade stilts
- Go for a creek walk
Once you have your list, choose a rock for each item on the list and draw a picture to represent the activity. For our 'Butterfly Hunt', we drew a butterfly. For 'Backyard Games', we have a picture of a badmiton net and racquet.
Fun Ways to Use the Activity Jar
There are a few great ways to use the rocks to encourage outdoor time with the kids.
Have them choose a rock for a 'surprise' activity. Kids love to be surprised! You can ask them to close their eyes or turn the rocks over so they can't see the picture before they choose.
Randomly choose 3 or 4 rocks and challenge the kids to complete the activities in a series. You can see in our picture, we chose to look for butterflies, paint a picture, play hopscotch and do some bird-watching. This idea can be used for playtime in the backyard, at a local park or even with a group of kids.
A Month of Activities
Challenge the kids to complete all the activities on the rocks in a one month period. If you have 30 items on your list, it would be one activity per day. This is an easy way to encourage them to get a little more time outside, especially during those busy weeks.
So, what great activities would you put on your rocks?
Have fun getting the kids to explore the outdoors!