I’m happy to partner with our sponsor, Culturelle® Kids to talk about the incredible benefits of outdoor play for children and share 20 fun ideas for heading outside today!)
Today, more now than ever, children spend less time outside and with nature than their parent’s generation did as children. Technology and organized structuring of “free time” has a tremendous impact on why children are indoors more than outdoors, but the benefits of being outside playing in nature have scientifically proven positive impacts on health, the immune system and children’s development.
Culturelle® Kids knows the importance of outdoor play and maintaining a healthy immune system which is why they’ve partnered with KaBOOM!, the national non-profit dedicated to giving all kids safe places to play to build one lucky school in need a new dream playground worth $100,000.
You can vote for your favorite school and help them win a brand-new playground here. Wouldn’t it be incredible if your kids, their classmates and the entire school won a new playground where they can safely burn off extra energy at recess and in between classes?
It’s time to step away from screens and send your kids outside to play, here’s why:
1. Obesity is surely the most visible sign of a sedentary lifestyle spent mostly inside, but other symptoms include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), stifled imagination and creativity, and reduced ability to problem solve and show self-discipline. These can be significantly improved when children spend more time moving and playing outside.
2. Being in a “green” environment has been shown to improve overall wellbeing, self-esteem, bring immediate stress relief, spurs creativity and even significantly improve learning and recall ability, and mental and emotional wellbeing. (Source: University of Essex research study).
3. Unstructured free play outside promotes creativity and imagination because children can immerse themselves in an environment, and think and play freely without adult agendas. When children head outdoors, they are naturally curious about their environment and new surroundings – the childlike wonder we swoon over as parents, suddenly reappears!
4. Being outside may feel less like a stimulating environment than a learning activity, or even playing a video game, but being immersed in nature forces children to engage their senses. When kids are outside, they see, touch, smell, and hear what’s around them but when they are mostly indoors, children can’t engage these senses properly and over time, they become dulled and function diminishes.
5. Exercise helps kids focus, and improve recognition and recall abilities. While exercise doesn’t have to be a team sport or turn you into a weekend warrior at the soccer fields, heading outside to get your blood pumping and breathe in fresh air is beneficial for every age. Walking the dog, going on a bike ride or playing hopscotch outside is better than being a couch potato watching a screen.
6. According to the Attention Restoration Theory, in a natural environment, we practice an effortless style of attention called “soft fascination.” which creates feelings of pleasure and restfulness. However, when you live in an urban environment you use what’s called “directed attention,” which forces a person to ignore distractions and exhausts the brain. Being in nature is the opposite of this – immersing yourself in a green and natural environment – reduces stress and brain fatigue, decreases aggression and increases overall happiness.
As one study published by the American Medical Association in 2005 states, “Children will be smarter, better able to get along with others, healthier and happier when they have regular opportunities for free and unstructured play in the out-of-doors.”
The healthy combination of outdoor play and key-immune boosting probiotics in Culturelle® Kids will keep kids healthy, inside and out! Year after year, pediatricians recommend Culturelle® Kids more than any other probiotic brand. Pair these two together and your children will be healthier physically, emotionally and mentally.
It’s time to shut off technology and head outside – for your children’s wellbeing, a healthy immune system & overall happiness!
Here are 20 fun ways to get your kids outdoors for rejuvenating & stress-free fun:
- Set up an obstacle course in your backyard and grab a stop-watch for a little friendly competition.
- Participate in a nature-themed scavenger hunt finding items such as a ladybug, pinecone, yellow flower, etc. Get the neighbors involved, the more the merrier!
- Go for a nature walk at a new park or hiking trail.
- Head out berry, apple or fruit picking at a local farm or orchard.
- Grab books at the library to help your kids identify the things they see in nature (birds, bugs, trees, etc.)
- Set up a blanket and head outside to read books and have lunch.
- Buy your kids their own set of gardening tools to dig, explore and get a little dirty (and use all their senses immersed in nature.)
- Start a collection – rocks, bugs, flowers, or leaves. (Just be careful, most state parks have strict rules about not bringing anything home.)
- Stack and balance rocks, see how can make the tallest pile without toppling over.
- Go on a rock hunt to pick up a dozen rocks for rock painting or creating kindness rocks to leave around your neighborhood with encouraging messages such as “You are beautiful,” “You are smart,” and “I love your smile.”
- Turn your backyard into a kid’s exploration & adventure headquarters! Hang a chalkboard on the fence, set up buckets with balls, yard toys and squirt guns. Turn on the sprinklers, hang a swing from a tree branch, assemble a hammock, create sensory bins with sand and construction vehicles or water buckets to splash in. The options are endless!
- Plant a garden together and tend to the vegetables, plants and flowers as a family.
- Create nature-themed art collages by going on a nature walk and collecting items for your art project and then to work dreaming up a masterpiece only using the things you find!
- Melt crayons in the hot sun on rocks or an art canvas.
- Invite the neighbors over to run through the sprinklers or race down a slip and slide.
- Give your kids a magnifying glass and let them investigate the great outdoors!
- Create bird feeders and set up a viewing spot to watch the local birds flock to your home.
- Bundle up and head outside to jump in puddles or build a snowman in the snow.
- Make mud pies (but be sure to set up a washing station nearby.)
- Visit a local stream to catch tadpoles and watch as they grow into frogs (and then release them once they’re grown.)
Don’t forget to vote daily (until March 16, 2018) in the Culturelle® Kids Project Playground Sweepstakes to help your school of choice win a new playground (plus a chance to win a $100 Target® gift card and free Culturelle® Kids Chewables.)
I’m happy to partner with our sponsor, Culturelle® Kids to talk about the incredible benefits children reap from outdoor play and share fun ideas for heading outside today!)