Saturday, December 8, 2012

Getting out of the house - 26 free fun activities!

We all know we're supposed to get kids - and ourselves - outside more often. That gets even harder in a small town where it's 20 miles to the nearest fast food play place and movie theater, 30 miles away to the closest zoo or museum. In the summer, the closest pool is 10 miles.

In town our excitement consists of the city park, the grocery store, Pacman or Galaga at the restaurant.

So we have to get inventive. Here are some of our go-to get-out-of-the-house activities:

1) Walk the dry creek beds and ditches. I can't tell you how many adventures Brady has imagined we were on during these walks. And we often find little treasures on our walks - good sticks and rocks, old bottles, a free Wendy's frosty coupon, buckets, toys, etc. Here's our latest adventure. I think he was protecting me by wielding the big stick:

2) Collect fruits, nuts, flowers, whatever is in your area to collect. In the summer, we spent countless hours collecting buckets of mulberries, walnuts and apples to use for cooking. But a nice bouquet would work too!

3) In South Carolina we used to do what we called "dump truckin'". We found a patch of dirt and played with shovels, cups, bowls, dump trucks etc. Or a nice dirt or sand pile or sand box would work too.

4) BALLS! Always tons of fun. Countless things to do with these!

5) Bubbles! Even more fun!

6) Gardening. That leads to hours of tilling, planting, watering, weeding, harvesting. The best thing you can do with a kid, I think.

7) Watch what's going on in your community. We have watched roads being paved, houses being built, houses being torn down, the trash men collecting bins, and most recently a hollow 70-foot-tall tree being cut down. Here's Brady on the stump:

8) Ride bikes, or scooters, or roller blades.

9) Just walk. Take a different road each time and you'll see interesting houses, meet neighbors, have discussions that are far more interesting than you ever imagined.

10) Fill buckets with ... well, anything. Rocks, sand, twigs, leaves. It's an opportunity to discuss volume. Brady made the following percentage chart all by himself in church one day. He floors me all the time:

11) Crack open seeds and acorns and investigate what's inside.

12) Walk the dog if you have one.

13) Walk around your neighborhood to see the Christmas lights.

14) Play soccer, football, Frisbee, baseball, catch, hide and seek, or tag.

15) Rake leaves and jump into them.

16) Wash the car. Oh we've had so much fun with this one! And it's practical too.

17) Set up baby pools and a sprinkler. In the 100 degree summer heat, we did this in the shade where a breeze was and I swear I was actually shivering!

18) Find you a little stream or bridge and drop different things into it - leaves, rocks, twigs, grass - see what floats and watch where it goes.

19) Sidewalk chalk! Fun to create and then you can wash it off and start over!

20) Walk in the rain if it's not too cold or too stormy. We see the world a new way when we do this.

21) Go on a nature walk. We have a box we call our "Nature Box" which has everything from a dead Cicada killer wasp to snake skins to turtle eggs to wasp nests to a mouse skull. We love talking about the things in there, all found on walks.

22) Find some outside chores the kids can earn money for doing: raking leaves, picking leaves or weeds out of flower beds, picking up sticks out of the yard, picking up trash, etc.

23) Take the recycling to the bins! We did this to our curb in Florida, here we have to walk up town.

24) Any and all neighborhood parties, block parties, festivals, church activities.

25) Save little creatures in precarious situations. We have saved turtles, frogs and all manner of insects that were in places where they were trapped or could get squashed.

26) Have lots and lots of outside toys available! Here's our stash:

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