How to get kids outdoors

campfireThis month I must have slipped off the radar for the fabulous Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama.

The topic was so great, however, that I wanted to post up anyway!

The topic of choice was our favourite ways to play outdoors with our kids.Fortunately, ‘getting my child outdoors’ isn’t something I need to give much attention to. Little Miss green is a naturally outdoors girl and I put this down to several things:

  • From birth, she’s been outside everyday. As a family, we are the outdoor sort.
  • We live in a beautiful part of the country which just PULLS you outside!
  • We have no TV, so the outdoors is her entertainment.
  • She’s never heard ‘be careful’ so enjoys the freedom to climb trees, paddle in the stream, play with sticks and run around.
  • She is home schooled, so has access to the outdoors as much as she likes; rather than being told she can go outside when the bell rings.
  • We have a bunny and we all love the excuse to go outside, give her some love and feed her dandelions!
  • One of our ways to spend daily quality family time together is to go out for a walk.

So I count myself as blessed as I don’t know what it is like to have to convince my child to go outside. Little Miss Green knows exercising and fresh air is good for her health, but most of all she knows being outside is fun!

In recent studies, just 37 percent of 10 – 12 year old children spent more than half an hour outdoors per day. 8 to 18 years spend nearly 4 hours a day in front of a TV screen and almost 2 additional hours on the computer (outside of school work) and playing video games. Little miss Green probably spends on average, about 3 hours outside everyday.

Here are some suggestions to get your kids outside – there are seven sections; one for each day of the week!

Many of the parents who take part in the carnival of natural parenting have babies or toddlers. Some of my ideas are for older children too.:

Grow something

Take part in ‘potatoes for schools‘, Garden organic’s ‘one pot pledge‘ or BBC’s ‘Dig In‘ to get some free seeds and information on growing your own.

Grow things that offer a quick reward such as radishes or sunflowers or take a look at our ‘5 easy things to grow‘ article. And remember, you don’t need a garden to grow your own food!

If you have no room at all at home, apply for an allotment or hook up with someone on Landshare and get your hands in the soil.

Eat Something

The reward of growing your own food is getting something to eat at the end of your hard work!

Saunter out into the veggie patch and pick cherry tomatoes, herbs and salad leaves as fresh as you can get them.

Have a barbecue and make vegetable kebabs or roasted new potatoes.

If you don’t have a garden, you can still enjoy al fresco eating by going foraging or packing up a picnic.

Nurture something

Children are natural nurturers. They love fussing over animals or plants and taking care of them.

Why not plant a bee garden, keep chickens, feed the birds, make a pond, plant a tree, visit a farm park or perhaps you have a dog that needs taking out every day – the perfect excuse for a daily walk!

Build something

Get outside and get creative with a project together.

You could make an insect house, a bee hotel, a bird table, a den or a campfire.

Discover something

Kids are great detectives and have an inbuilt sense of wonder whenever they get outdoors.

Go on a nature walk and watch the seasons change; remember to take a basket to bring home treasures for your nature table! Discover a new playground, paddle in a stream, find a new beach or wood to explore and take part in BBC’s Breathing places for inspiration.

The RSPB ask for help in taking surveys throughout the year too; you might get involved with counting wildflowers, looking for signs of spring or bird watching. Enrol your child in your local Wildlife Trust “Wildlife Watch” group where they can meet like minded friends with a love of the outdoors.

Play something

Set up a sandpit, a bowl of water or give your child a small piece of earth that is their’s to make mud pies with.

Give them sidewalk chalk and unleash their inner artist.

Put up a tent or play I Spy.


Being outdoors is a great way to incorporate exercise with fun.

Play hide and seek or tag. Get out the bicycles, scooters and footballs.

Bounce on a trampoline, do some skipping or play hopscotch. Remember the games you enjoyed as a child and teach them to your kids!

Can’t get enough of the Carnival? Keep bang up to date with the “Carnival of natural parenting” facebook page.


  1. Dionna @ Code Name: Mama on June 21, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    Great ideas! One of Kieran’s favorite things is for me to simply give him a big bowl of water plus things to pour and stir, and he will sit outside for quite awhile to play.

  2. Stacey on June 22, 2010 at 2:07 am

    Thanks so much for such a wonderful post! I really appreciate all your many fabulous suggestions!

    We adopted a dog about a month ago and he has been the best incentive to get outside and take daily walks (something I missed greatly after our last dog died a little over a year ago) – especially at night when it’s not so hot and we can look at the stars and the fireflies and play “flashlight tag” (my 5 year-old son’s invention).

    Thanks again for this wonderful post and I plan to implement many of the other suggestions! Take wonderful care, Stacey

  3. Melodie on June 22, 2010 at 3:42 am

    Loved it. Shared it. Now commenting. (grin!)
    We spend lots of time outside too. I love just letting the kids find their own fun but when they lose interest I will often get them a bucket of water and some cheap wide paint brushes and have them “paint the house.” They also like to draw with chalk and go for walks with me and learn about all the plants in our area.

  4. Rachel Mathews on June 22, 2010 at 8:12 am

    Getting the children involved with growing their own food is wonderful on so many levels.

    It’s hard to compete these days with videogames and television, but if you can get to them early enough and get them loving the outside, then they are more likely to continue being interested as they grow up. Hopefully!

  5. Mrs Green on July 6, 2010 at 6:44 am

    @Dionna @ Code Name: Mama: Oh wonderful; that brings back many happy memories of little Miss Green playing with water. Oh wait; she still does LOL!

    @Stacey: Thank you Stacey and thanks for taking time to leave a comment. A dog is a wonderful excuse to get outside. I love the image of you out at night enjoying the cool air.

    @Melodie: Painting the house is the cutest idea – thank you for sharing!

    @Rachel Mathews: Hi Rachel; yes it’s a job to compete against modern technology sometimes, but we have to keep trying!