10 Fun Outdoor Activities for Kids and Grandparents
Take the kids to a playground - fun for all ages!
Outdoor Activities for Kids and Grandparents
Are you looking for some fun outdoor activities to do with your young grandchildren? If so, there are fun family outdoor activities suitable for every season and every age group. Don't worry about getting dirty, just enjoy the fresh air, sunshine and smiles of your grandsons and granddaughters at play.
One of the best things about outdoor activities with children is that most of them are free or cost very little. The unstructured play is good for both adults and kids! Enjoy the moment!
Play Safe - Tips for Outdoor Activities
Safety guidelines for keeping the fun in outdoor activities with grandchildren.
Choose activities appropriate for the age. Plan a juice or snack break to give kids (and yourself) a rest. Most of the activities listed below are suitable for ages 4 and up.It's always wise to be prepared when heading off on outdoor activities with the kids. It's especially important to plan ahead if you are going somewhere other than your backyard. Depending on where you are going, here are a few things that you might want to bring along on your outdoor adventure:
- Sunscreen. Be sure to apply sunscreen before outdoor activities.
- Appropriate clothing. Flip flops and shorts are fine for playing at the beach or lakeside (don't forget sunglasses and hats), but for walking in the woods or playing on the playground, be sure the kids have closed toe shoes and long pants to protect from scrapes and insect bites. Long sleeved shirts will help protect against insect bites when walking in the woods.
- Insect repellent. Be sure to use insect repellent if you are going into areas where there might be mosquitoes, ticks or chiggers.
- First aid kit. Keep a small first aid kit in your backpack just in case there's a mishap. At the very least you will want a few band aids and antiseptic cream, a small pair of tweezers for splinters.
- Bottled water, juice or soft drinks. This is important for you as well as the kids. Stay hydrated!
- Disinfectant wipes. These are handy for cleaning hands before eating or after bathroom breaks.
- Light snacks. Who doesn't get hungry when playing outdoors! Bring along some fruit, cookies, crackers and cheese or a sandwich.
- Cell phone . Your cell phone should be programed with emergency phone numbers and parents' contact numbers.
- A camera! Most importantly, don't forget your camera to snap a few pictures. These ordinary outdoor activities will one day become precious memories!
Outdoor Activity #1 Take the kids to a playground - its FREE!
Working parents may not always have time to take kids to a local playground, but a playground is a great place for grandparents to take kids from toddlers on up. The advantages of a great playground are that the kids can get fresh air, sunshine, exercise and even interact with some other children. A few tips on playgrounds:
Be sure the child is dressed appropriately - long pants and sneakers are especially important and will offer protection from scrapes on playground equipment. Remember those burns from slidding on the sliding board with bare skin?
It's o.k. to let kids play with other kids, but be sure you know exactly where they are at all times. Do not let them visit restrooms or food concessions alone.
Take along drinks like water and juice and light snacks or an easy lunch. Nothing is more fun than a picnic in the park with grandpa and grandma!
Outdoor Activity #2 - Go Fishing!
This is a traditional outdoor activity for grandfathers and grandsons, and brings to mind some nostalgic Rockwell paintings, but the truth is that boys and girls love to try their hand at fishing. What could be more fun than playing with squishy worms and having the chance to splash around in water?
If the kids get bored with fishing and the weather is warm enough, most kids would enjoy turning up a few rocks to look for crayfish. Don't forget the fascination of leaning how to skip stones across the water!
Grandma Builds a Fort With Her Grandson
Outdoor Activity #3 - Build a Fort
Who doesn't love forts? Kids love to build their own cozy place, whether it's indoors under a blanket tent or outdoors under the picnic table. The best thing about building a fort outdoors is that it can be done with any age group and in almost any season. Winter snow forts just require some big snowballs in a circle, and you're all set for a snowball fight! In the fall, the kids might love to pile up leaves and burrow under them. Any time of year, kids and grandparents can build simple forts from sticks and branches or hang blankets over the picnic table and outdoor furniture for more private quarters.
Going to the beach is a great outdoor activity!
Outdoor Activity #4 - Visit the Beach
The beach offers many opportunities for fun activities. Even in the cooler months, kids can build sand castles, hunt for shells and sea glass or investigate tide pools for sea creatures. Shelling is one of my favorite activities at the beach, and one that my grandchildren loved to do. All you need is a small bucket or bag and you're good to go. Some of these shells and stones can even be used later for indoor crafts or just displayed in a jar or basket as a room decoration.
Once year when playing in a shallow inlet, our granddaughter found a bonanza of abandoned shell that contained hermit crabs. She collected several to take back to camp and observe before releasing them back into the water.
Playing in the Snow - Fun for kids and grownups alike
Outdoor Activity #5 Play in the Snow
Go Sledding, Skiing or Build a Backyard Snowman.
Playing in the snow is free and fun! Dress yourself and the kids in warm clothing and enjoy sledding or skiing in a local park or even down your driveway.
Take the kids ice skating. Many local parks have outdoor skating rinks in the winter that are perfect places for kids to learn to ice skate. Take a thermos of hot chocolate along for a warm drink later!
Build a snowman or a snow fort. The cold air will be refreshing and exhilarating for you and the kids! Watch out, though, because one of them is sure to throw a snowball at Grandma or Grandpa!
Go Gold Panning in Your Backyard
Outdoor Activity #6 Hunt for Treasure!
Kids love to search for treasure. If there's a local gem mine, gold mine or a place to search for fossils in your area, it can provide a wonderful educational activity. On one of our trips, we were near an area where gold mining was done and brought home a bucket of sand and gravel. We put a few inches of water in the kiddie pool and let them pan for gold - they loved it!
Another adventure with children was a trip to Herkimer Diamond Mine in Herkimer, New York where kids and adults were allowed to bring their own hammers to smash rock looking for Herkimer diamonds. Yes, we did find some!
But you don't have to go to a gold mine or diamond mine for kids to enjoy a treasure hunt. Kids can be encouraged to look for beautiful stones on a simple walk in the park!
Look for Interesting Bugs and Butterflies
Activity #7 Hunt for Bugs, Butterflies and Other Critters
The old rhyme goes,
"Snakes and snails and puppy dog tails...that's what little boys are made of"
Nothing attracts the young biologists more than an interesting bug, slug or snail! Take your grandchildren on a nature walk in the backyard or local park and hunt for interesting bugs. No need to pick them up! You can observe them, see what they eat and watch them move. Even watching a colony of ants can be a fascinating experience for both adult and child.
Outdoor Activity #8 Visit a farm or a petting zoo
Kids of all ages love to interact with animals. If you know a local farmer who will let you get close up to see some farm animals, it's a perfect place for kids to see cows, horses, goats or chickens. A local petting zoo is another place where children are allowed to feed or pet tame domestic animals. Be sure to take your camera, as nothing is cuter than your little lamb petting a real little lamb!
Even Young Children Can Appreciate a Flower
Outdoor Activity #9 Garden With Your Grandkids
If you are a gardener, let your grandchild help plant seeds and tend the garden. You might even want to reserve a small space for their very own garden.
Outdoor Activity #10 Play Traditional Outdoor Games
Spend some time playing traditional games with the kids. Depending on their ages, kids might enjoy
- Playing catch
- Shooting hoops
- Playing Frisbee
- Tossing a football
- Batting balls
- Lawn games like croquet or ring toss
- Miniature golf
Outdoor Activities Kids Would Enjoy
What kinds of activities would your kids enjoy?
Take Advantage of Local Activities
In addition to the above suggestions, do take advantage of local, seasonal activities in your town or nearby park. Some suggestions might be:
- Pick your own blueberries or strawberries
- Visit a pumpkin farm or corn maze
- Take a ferry ride
- Check out special events at the zoo
- Go to a local carnivals or fair
- Pitch a tent in the backyard
- Have a campfire
- Watch a meteor shower
- Fly a kite
- Go on a bike ride together
- Play fetch with the dog
Get the Kids Outdoors!
In this electronic age, even very young children are often deeply engrossed in electronic entertainment indoors. Getting them outside to enjoy nature and all of its wonders is healthy and educational as well as fun. Grandparents can share in this fun by introducing kids to some of the fun outdoor activities that they enjoyed as children—activities that never go out of style. What could be more timeless than building a snowman or beach combing?
Children who are introduced to the woods and fields and beaches are learning first hand about the wonders of the natural environment. And the bonding time with their grandparents, siblings or other family members is priceless!
Copyright ©2012 Stephanie Henkel